Two days ago, I wrote about how my experience with Wonderful Town kind of turned my life around. But while the seven subsequent high school productions I would perform in might not have been quite as life-changing, each one holds a very special place in my heart. In theater, you put so much time and energy into preparing for just three to five performances, and then all you have left is a few pictures and your memories. But some of the fondest memories I have are of my time in my high school’s theater department, and I’m happy to share another one of them with you today!
The Cherry Orchard- Ensemble
However, if I had to pick one play I performed in with the least fond memories, it would have to be this one. While I still made a lot of great friends from the performance, it was ultimately either pretty boring or embarrassing for me.
The Cherry Orchard is a highly unusual play for a high school to put on, due to the very serious and complex themes of the play, and how much of the emotion of the play is brought out through context. It was written by the Russian playwright Anton Chekhov in 1903, intended to be a comedy even though nearly everything in the play seems to be a very dark tragedy. It follows the final days of a rich Russian family as they crumble under debt that ultimately sees them all lose their estate along with the titular cherry orchard. Each character has multiple layers of complexity, and our director helped each actor do the part justice.
Except for me, the post office clerk. The Cherry Orchard only has two ensemble roles, so myself and one other guy spent most of our time in the dressing room doing homework or just goofing off while everyone else acted their hearts out onstage. I was onstage somewhere between five and ten minutes in three seperate scenes, with not a single line in any of them. I laughed at some magic tricks, pulled a drunk poet offstage, and… waltzed.
As I said in my previous article, I love acting. Singing and dancing are things that I’m willing to do in order to act, but especially in the earlier productions, I hated it. I thought I was in the clear after finishing with the musical, but lo and behold, one of the only things I had to do in the play was dance. And I of course sucked at it. Not only did I have to focus on keeping my steps in time with the music, I was still super uncomfortable around girls, and waltzes involve hands on bodies. The girl I was dancing with had to practically force my hand up to her waist, my face red as a tomato. The final component was actually acting while half of my brain was focused on not tripping and the other half was doing this. And of course my character was a big flirt, just to make me more uncomfortable.
So you’d think that would be enough to embarass me, right? WRONG.
There was a big ol’ hole in my pants. Right over my butt. And I went to the costume lady, who was a student, and she said it was fine! Really?! It’s fine that there’s a big ol’ hole over my butt?! I mean, I wasn’t going commando, but nobody wants to see my “naughty or nice” underwear! (It’s comfortable, okay?!) I don’t know if she didn’t see it right, or if she was just enjoying the view, but for whatever reason nobody cared about this hole in my pants right up until the first performance.
So the day of the performance arrives, and at this point the hole in my pants is just a big joke with everyone else in the dressing room constantly singing the SpongeBob song, “Ripped Pants.” I know I should have been more assertive about needing there to not be a hole in my pants, but I was still a little shy, so I didn’t.
And the way the stage was set, everyone in the audience spent a lot of time looking at the actors’ butts. The entire play took place in one room, and to immerse the audience in it, there were seats for them everywhere, from all sides and even in the middle of the stage! It was really cool, but it meant that someone in the audience would always be looking at someone’s back. Or in my case… my butt.
So I do my waltz, trying to ignore any possible snickering, and get off-stage. I get a text from my mom saying, “Good job with the dance! You have a hole in your pants.”
There’s nothing (I think) I can do at that point, so I keep on going on and off-stage when I have to, until the student director walks past me and exclaims, “Oh crap, you’ve got a big ol’ hole-”
“Over my butt, I know,” I respond exasperatedly.
“Well we’ve gotta fix it!” she yells, and pulls me up to where the costume lady is, shouting “You need to fix this dude’s pants ASAP!” and leaves.
“So, uh, I guess if you don’t have enough time, you can just take them of-” she began, I’m sure with innocent intentions.
“NoooOOOPE, I’ve got enough time!” I interject with both an intensity and rapidity I didn’t know I could speak with, buzz down to the changing room, get my own jeans on, dash back up, and deliver the hole-y pants. By some miracle, they were delivered back not only in time, but whole, and the rest of the audiences were spared that unfortunate view.
Thus ends the highly unfortunate yet hopefully amusing saga of The Cherry Orchard. Perhaps it turned out to be a comedy after all. I’ve had so much fun writing about my time in theater that I decided to make it an eight-part series, with one post for every play we put on! If I run into any that aren’t terribly eventful, I might combine some, but so far I seem to be having plenty to say!