This week I thought I might give you a short story based on a strange dream I had a while ago. I think my brain has been telling me that it misses theatre work.
“Right, okay. We’ll start with you on stage please. I’d like you to read over…” the director, who had introduced himself as Will, paused and began flipping through the stack of papers he had clipped to the board he was holding.
Ryan scrambled onto the stage, dusted off his pants, and faced Will. His left foot bounced nervously, and he rubbed his hands together.
“I have it here somewhere…maybe we ought to start with your prepared monologue, instead.” Will dropped the ends of the papers and adjusted his glasses. “Yes, let’s do that. Whenever you’re ready.”
Nodding, Ryan swallowed the sudden lump in his throat. “I’ve prepared a speech of Claudius’ from Shakespeare’s Hamlet.”
“Yes, go ahead.” Will continued to stare up toward him from the second row of theater chairs.
“Right, right!” Taking a deep breath, Ryan turned away from the invisible audience, took 10 seconds, then turned back. “O, my offense –”
The lights of the theatre dimmed, flashed, and returned to full power.
Blinking, Ryan glanced around. “O—”
“Anna!” Will yelled over his shoulder, his voice loud, taking advantage of the theatre’s acoustics.
“I saw it! I saw it!” A young woman, bright pink hair stacked into a messy bun high on her head, hurried into the room from a side entrance. “Give me a moment. I’ll figure it out.” She vanished through another side door opposite from where she had entered.
Will looked to Ryan expectantly.
“Right…right.” The lights flickered again, but the director was looking rather bored, so Ryan forged ahead with his monologue.
Throughout the speech Will scribbled some notes, but by the time Ryan was finished he was back to flipping through his papers.
“Good, good. I’ll just find that excerpt from our show and –” He broke off as Anna sprinted back into the room. Without looking up he shot a question over his shoulder, “Find the problem?”
“I sure did!” Anna bolted out the first door she had come through.
Will kept flipping through his clipboard.
Ryan rubbed the toe of his right shoe into the stage flooring.
“Just give me a minute, it’s here some—” Again he stopped as the sound of pounding footsteps heralded Anna’s return. “What is it then?” He still didn’t look up.
“Probably the thing on fire!” Anna rushed passed, holding a fire extinguisher before her as though it was a rifle with bayonet affixed. The door slammed behind her as she disappeared.
“Ah!” Will’s exclamation made Ryan jump.
Rather than rushing out to help with the fire, however, the director merely removed some sheets from the clip board and held them up. “I’ve found it!”
From the next room Ryan could hear Anna shouting loudly, “Remember PASS. P – pull the pin! A – aim for the source of the fire!”
“Shouldn’t we help her?” Ryan asked, eyeing the door nervously.
Will, coming down the aisle, script in hand, shook his head. “She’s fine.”
“S – Squeeze the trigger!” There was a rushing noise. “S – Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeep!”
“She doesn’t sound fine.”
“That’s how she remains calm. Here you go. I want you to read Antiono for me, if you would. I’ll read Leah’s parts, if I can find another script.” Will handed the sheets over, and started back to his seat, digging through his papers again.
Anna was still yelling “Sweeeeeeeeeep” the next room over.
Clutching the script close to his chest, Ryan contemplated running for the door. “Is this normal?”
“Yep!!” returned the director, rifling through his pages once again.
If you’re wondering, I’m pretty sure in my dream that the director Will had been William Shakespeare in modern times. I couldn’t tell you what was on fire but Will seemed very confident that Anna could handle it despite her screaming.
Sometimes dreams can be weird but this one wasn’t too bad. I didn’t wake up scared, just laughing.
If you’re wondering, the whole PASS thing was actually how I was taught to use a fire extinguisher: it’s pretty easy to remember though getting a broad-enough sweep can be a little hard. Apparently, the hardest thing to remember is that, even if you think you’ve extinguished the fire completely, you should never turn your back to it. Flare-ups can be dangerous so if you try to walk away you should always walk backwards the way you came and be prepared to attempt extinguishing it again. So, now you know! A story and a lesson (I’m good at this) [I’m really not.]