I didn’t even know there was such a thing as theatrical ‘style’ or how to describe it.
In the first rehearsal, the father of the heroine, Nell, had just been shot. The Townspeople were to prance upstage, turn and, in the most campy way, squeal en masse “Ooooh, he’s dead!”
It would be very, very funny.
Instead, they shuffled upstage, turned and mumbled, “Er, um… he’s, um … dead.”
“No, no, no!” the director (me) cried! “Do it like this!” And I minced upstage like Betty Boop, pirouetted and froze, eyes wide, mouth a perfect “O,” then squealed “Oooooooooo! He’s dead!”
Only then did I see the looks of horror on their faces
12 kids in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, all on the cusp of puberty, glared at me in a silent chorus of “No way in hell!”
I’ve sorely regretted I didn’t know the word “CAMPY” then. If only I’d explained: “But see, this is really a CAMPY move” then surely they would all have said, “OH! It’s CAMPY!” and camped it up like crazy
Fat chance. These weren’t ‘theater kids’. Now that I think of it, they – we – were all gifted kids (read that ‘geeky’) in a single magnet classroom serving the whole city.
I’ve always considered it a deep failure of communication that I didn’t know that word.
It didn’t occur to me until yesterday that even if I’D know the word, THEY didn’t. And even if they’d KNOWN it, there’s no way they would have been willing – or known how – to do it. I couldn’t explain it. I could only embody it.
But now I don’t have to worry about that.
My new musical, ‘The Golden Cage,’ runs April 20-24 in NYC. We have an amazing director, Rebecca Miller Kratzer – and it’s an absolute joy to watch her communicate, finding DIRECTOR words and gestures that my COMPOSER/PLAYWRITE mind doesn’t think of.
BE PART of this MAGIC! Donate now or buy tix for “The Golden Cage” Apr 20 – 24 in NYC – at GoldenCageMusical.com. Got friends in NYC? Let them know!