Thursday, July 27, 2017

Story 196: My Fans Ruined My Movie

            The Diversified Artist and his Friend arrived incognito at a small-town cinema.
            “I think we fooled them,” his Friend whispered, lifting up his sunglasses to see better indoors.
            “Ssh!”  The Diversified Artist tried to unobtrusively shush him while raising the collar of his trench coat higher and pulling his wide-brimmed hat lower.  “Don’t spoil it now; I can’t take another mob scene, I just can’t.  They’ll never let me in that mall again, you know.”
           Their ticket stubs were ripped by a suspicious employee who made a mental note to have Security keep an eye on these two.  “Theatre 12, all the way to the right, enjoy the show.”
            “Thanks – you, too!”  Friend said, immediately regretting it and suffering the withering looks.
            They sat in the next-to-last row of the theatre, slumped low enough so that they could still see the ginormous screen but that no one could see their profiles.  As the trailers continued for the next half hour, they spoke in whispers.
            “So I never got to ask you what it felt like filming in all those warlike conditions,” his Friend said.
            “Well, it was a lot of standing and sitting around waiting for the next shot, a lot of dirt, a lot of explosions, and a lot of water,” he spoke around the popcorn.  “I can’t wait to see what the final version looks like – I mean, it was such an honor really, being even a small part of the whole experience, paying tribute in a way to all those soldiers and civilians, but I think I’ll appreciate what they went through so much more when I’m not in the middle of repeating the same line 20 times so we get the scene right, know what I mean?”
            “Yeah, I think I actually do,” his Friend said, then turned to the row behind them.  “That’s odd.”
            The Diversified Artist glanced quickly but saw nothing.  “What is?”
            “Some random pre-teen girls behind us set themselves up with blankets and their phones to watch a World War II movie.  You think they’re in the wrong theatre?”
            “Heh-heh, that’s – oh.  You don’t think – ?”
            “What, that they came here to see you?  Get your head out of your butt, mate, not everyone’s in your fan club.  I know I dropped out ages ago, and I’m your bodyguard.”
            “Still, it’s rather a strange film choice for… people of that demographic.”
            “Maybe they’re extremely mature for their ages.”
           The giggling behind them began, then morphed into persistent whispering as the movie started.
            “Here we go!”  His Friend shook the Diversified Artist’s arm in excitement.
            “Squee!”  A pre-pubescent voice softly screeched behind them.
            World War II in all its harrowing detail marched hypnotically across the screen in cinematic mastery, and all the Diversified Artist could focus on were:
            “You think he worked out super hard for this role?”
          “I can’t believe they made him cut his beautiful hair for something stupid like ‘historical accuracy!’”
            “Ugh, when is he going to show up?  I’m soooo boooored!”
            “You all right?”  His Friend asked him partway through.  “Is the realistic drama getting to you or something?”
           “I can’t concentrate with them talking through the whole thing!”  The Diversified Artist hissed through gritted teeth.
            “Just tell them to shush, or I can get them kicked out if you want.”
           “No!”  He whispered even lower.  “They’ll see it’s me and it’ll be another mob scene or they’ll forever turn on me, and either way the movie’s ruined for everybody!”
            “Oh, there you are!”  His Friend softly exclaimed at the screen. “Wow, you weren’t kidding: you are extremely dirty.”
            “There he is!  Yesssss!!”  The voices chimed in.
            “He is sooooo cute!!!”
            “I can’t wait to see his show next year; are you going?”
           Several adult voices around them “Ssh!”ed, and the pre-teens clammed up for about 10 minutes before resuming a steady murmur throughout the rest of the movie.
            His Friend sniffled during the climactic rescue scene and leaned towards him to say softly: “I’m not afraid to admit that all this heroism is moving me tears.”
            “OMG, you think his skin’ll ever recover from all that gross stuff that got on him?”
            He ground his teeth and gripped the arms of his chair tighter.
           When the movie ended and the house lights turned on, his Friend had to pry him out of his seat; he was shaking and could not look behind him until the gaggle had skipped out of the theatre.
            His Friend gushed quietly as they headed to the lobby: “Good show, mate; I never really knew much about those events, and what those people did there was truly inspiring.  This proves what cinema is all about – showing us the suffering of other people and making us appreciate what they sacrificed for us.”
            The Diversified Artist exploded in a whisper: “I’m glad you do, because those punks certainly don’t!  I can’t believe they used my movie debut to turn a really moving and insightful war film into a slumber party!  And you just know that this isn’t the only time that’ll happen!  I’m so embarrassed!”
         “Don’t be,” his Friend said.  “It’s not your fault when people are ignorant; just do what everyone else does nowadays and shame them on the Internet.”
            He did the next best thing by appealing to his fans to be respectful of the film’s material and of their fellow audience members when they inevitably went to see this movie for the third time that week.
            “OMG, it must have been me he saw there!  I am so going to film his scenes the next time we go.”

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Story 195: Outdoor Performances Will Be Held Rain or Shine

            The pouring rain started less than an hour before curtain.
            “We should cancel,” Stage Manager said to Director.  “It’s going to be all mud out there, and no one’ll come to see this tonight anyway if they’re drowning.”
            “Out of the question!” Director replied.  “The Outdoor Stage is our best venue and the flyers state ‘Rain or Shine,’ so ‘Rain or Shine’ it shall be!”
            “Yeah, I’d said back then that that was a bad idea, and this is why.”
            “I don’t know what you mean; rain like this doesn’t last that long, and look!  There’s someone in the audience already!”
            “That’s just our regular – she comes to every performance and no one knows why.”
           “Who cares if it’s one or a hundred: the show must go on because all the world is one giant stage and the play is the very thing!”
            “I don’t know if anyone’s brought this to your attention before, but you really aren’t suited to direct Shakespeare.”
            “…I know.”
            The shower knob turned up a notch as a trumpeter blasted rusty notes announcing the start of the show.  The Regular, sitting on a beach chair front and center on the lawn, was wearing an umbrella hat and holding a pennant that read “TEAM LYSANDER” as she clapped enthusiastically.  The trumpeter sputtered to an end and exited while the first actors entered stage left.
            The sandals of “Theseus” and “Hippolyta” squished so as to overpower their lines, so The Regular scooched her chair right up to the “stage” – after all, whose view would she be blocking?  The actors adjusted their marks and proceeded to ignore her.
            There was a close call when a barefoot “Puck” slid through the mud to the other side of the scene, but she recovered nicely with a flourish.
            “Woo-hoo!”  The Regular cheered, waving her “TEAM TITANIA” pennant.
            “I’m cancelling the rest of the show at intermission!”  Stage Manager shouted over the sounds of the crew constructing makeshift shelters over the props backstage.  “It’s getting dark and I won’t be able to turn on the stage lights later and then what’ll be the point?!”
            Director was watching the underwater play raptly.  “Who needs them?  Our audience can see everything perfectly, can’t you?”  He waved back at The Regular who had spotted him peeking through the backdrop.
          “The fairy bower is so waterlogged that the fake flowers have all rotted off!  Do you even know how much those things cost?!”
            “It’s in the budget; just pick some real ones off the campus grounds, I’m sure no one’ll notice when they’re gone.”
           “Excuse me,” “Nick Bottom” tapped Director’s shoulder.  “I don’t think I can do the last scene with the donkey’s head on: it acts like a sponge, so earlier I almost suffocated.”
            “Nonsense.”  Director did not even look at him.  “Just find a snorkel and stick it out through the back until the head comes off – improvising has never been your strong suit, you know; we really need to work on that this summer.”
            “Nick Bottom” left to figure out this conundrum as Stage Manager signaled for intermission.  “At least let me give the actors those rain coats from last year’s show – ”
            “Never!  They’re not period.”
            “These plays never were period!”
            During intermission, The Regular supported the Drama Club that season by buying almost all the snacks they sold, and posted on her updates: “Attending Outdoor Shakespeare Performance – BEST SHOW I’VE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!  Really Makes You Think :-).”
         After intermission, the actors chattered their teeth through lovers’ quarrels, tomfoolery, reunions, and fairy magic.  The show almost stopped when the awning became so waterlogged that gallons cascaded on top of the “Rude Mechanicals” during their Romeo and Juliet rip-off, but The Regular applauded wildly while waving her “TEAM BOTTOM” pennant and the show went on.
            Once “Puck” closed out the night’s shenanigans and the actors took their bows in the calf-high pool, The Regular blew her air horn in appreciation and Director emerged to thank her for attending.
            “Not at all!”  She packed up her gear in about five seconds.  “I loved the inclusion of the rain in the performance – really emphasized the depression of thwarted love and the control Nature has over mortals’ lives.”
           “Thank you,” Director said; behind the backdrop, Stage Manager ground her teeth.  “I thought these were the perfect conditions for this work, and I wish it could be like this every night – what The Bard would have wanted, I dare say.”
            “We’re all crazy nerds for going through with this, though, amIright?  But I guess the play’s the thing!”
            “That’s what I said!”
            Crashes sounded backstage – Director excused himself to see what was being destroyed.
           “Thanks again, you all were great!”  The Regular waved on her way to the parking lot.  “I’ll see you tomorrow night – forecast says there’ll be hail, I can’t wait!”