I’ve been working as a professional actor since I left college “a few” years ago. One of the theatres that I worked for was Allenberry Playhouse in central PA. They do plays and musicals March through Demember, and they also do Murder Mystery Weekends during the winter and spring.
The theatre is on a resort, so the audience stays on the property. The guests arrive Friday afternoon and leave Sunday. Everything that happens in between is like Vegas meets frat party meets cruise with lots of death and blood.
One year my husband was performing in the murder mystery and I had a few months between shows, so the director agreed to let me live in cast housing if I did a couple of cameo appearances throughout the weekend. Since I wanted to stick around to watch my husband have his arms lopped off every Saturday night, I readily agreed.
My first appearance of the weekend was as a shooting victim. All I had to do was sit in the dining room pretending to be a normal guest, and then when my husband ran in with a gun, I would stand up, scream, and get shot twice in the chest. Not a bad gig for free rent.
The blood delivery system for my gunshot wounds was fairly brilliant. I had two Plexiglas panels strapped to my body pressing two condoms of blood into my chest. When I wanted them to burst, I pressed a button on my ring that sent a spark through the wires taped to my body shocking the condom, which popped sending blood through a pea-sized hole in the Plexiglas.
My first night as a shooting victim they tried to strap the plexi to me, but the rig had been built for a man. They were planning on putting one plate on my chest and one on my stomach, but you can’t attach a 4×6 piece of flat plexi to a girl’s chest. There are boobs in the way. It just doesn’t work on a set of D’s. After several experiments they settled for one on the stomach and one on my pelvis below my pants line. They strapped me in, and all set to be murdered, I made my way to the dining room ready to blend in with the crowd. I sat down at my table smiling at the guests around me and felt a horrible pop and a warm seeping sensation. The pack on my pelvis had burst, and blood was leaking from the seat of my pants.
I was instantly transformed from murder mystery plant into thirteen-year-old girl living out a cafeteria horror story. I tried not to cry as I made a panicked run for backstage hoping that no one would notice the growing red stain on my gray pants.
The stage manager had to go wipe down my blood stained seat while the techs found me new pants and re-rigged my popped blood pack.
The walk of shame back to my table felt like a ten mile trek through a judgmental gauntlet. Everyone stared. I felt a little better after my husband shot me and my whole torso was covered in blood. I felt vindicated. I’m supposed to be a sticky bloody mess you mean, judgy audience members! The next week, they put the blood packs on my back so the seeping seat incident wouldn’t have an encore. But the damage was done, and the humiliation will never fade. I will never trust corn syrup and food coloring again.