Once upon a time when I was still in my ridiculously skinny and sickly pale stage, I was cast as a holocaust victim in the show I Never Saw Another Butterfly. My sister, with the bright blond hair and super blue eyes was kindly asked to assistant stage manage.
I didn’t do too much in the show. I dove for imaginary bread and survived a firing squad. There was a lot of tragedy obviously, but it was a pretty easy show. Until one of the kids had to go out for like the flu or a hangnail or something. It didn’t really matter until we got to the firing line scene.
There was this whole list of names, and as each name was read, a shot was fired and one person was killed. In the original blocking I was one of the few to not be executed. But hangnail kid had been given a name and was supposed to be dramatically killed. And each read name had to be shown with a kid dying because the very last name was that of the romantic lead, and then it was all still and solemn.
The stage manager asked me to die on hangnail’s name, and I was so excited. I finally got to crumple to the ground with everyone else. And I was ready for it. So ready for it.
Until I was onstage and realized that with the stage lights in my eyes and the sound cues of firing guns I didn’t actually remember what name I was supposed to die on.
So I stood there waiting for a name to sound familiar, but nothing did. Until the very last one. That one was so familiar! Because it was the name of the lead. There was no silence or drama. Instead some old lady said loudly in the front row, “I thought that was supposed to be the skinny guy.”
You know, the lead who is never referred to as being dead again, but the firing line is a huge plot point that affects the path of the remaining characters for the rest of the show.
An entire audience left the show, not touched, but confused ’cause this kid couldn’t die on the right damn name.
And now I’m in a workshopping a musical where changes can happen at any time.
But I play Allison. My name is Allison.