2018-03-07 / Editorials

Don Lively





Okay, there were no special effects so no extreme lighting.

There were no cameras except for adoring relatives sneaking cell phone shots of their favorite actors.

But there was plenty of action.

After weeks of rehearsals and script updates and costume designing, it was show time.

Ebenezer Scrooge, the grumpy old curmudgeon from Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, had come to town as a Southern Fried, Dixified version of his Victorian London self.

I had been tabbed to play The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come, personified in our production as a homeless man. After my initial abject terror at the thought of it, I’d thrown myself into the part. True, I had zero lines to learn but I still had to hit cues and not trip over my feet.

On the evening of the last rehearsal before the performances one of the younger, more precocious cast members came up to me with a very straight face and asked, "Have you memorized all of your lines yet?"

Very funny.

That was typical of the good natured grief that I caught.

"Do you need any help with your dialog?"

"I wish I had as many lines as you do."

"You are a really good pointer."

And, point I did.

The Ghost had to persuade ol' Eb Scrooge to leave his house to visit the future which required him to be directed to locations around his neighborhood. Except for the play's very first scene where I simply shambled across the stage, dug some leftovers out of a trashcan and exited stage left, all of my parts were toward the end of the play. I had five short scenes where I showed Eb what his future looked like.

Thus, the successive, expressive, excessive pointing.

There was a little more to it than pointing but I'll get to that in a bit.

About a half hour before the opening curtain of our first performance I was sitting alone in the dressing room when I began to reflect over the past several weeks. There had been a time about halfway through the process when I believed with all my heart that we would never be able to pull it off. With the exception of a handful of folks, none of the dozens of folks playing the parts had any acting experience, me included. I couldn't imagine that in one month we would be able to actually put on the play without looking really bad. Some actors were so quiet they could barely be heard. Others were overly loud. People were not paying attention and others were fiddling around with cell phones. One night I asked our young director if play preparation was always so chaotic. With a knowing look of wisdom way beyond his years he assured me that in the end it would all come together.

He was right.

The last few rehearsals were nearly flawless. I began to feel like part of a real troupe. What made it even more special was that I knew so many of the performers. They were friends and neighbors. Some that I hadn't known before became friends. It made me, once again, so proud of our little town and what it's able to accomplish.

Now, back to my debut.

When all you have to do is shuffle around as a dirty old bum the role is easy. But then, suddenly, the hobo has to transform into a menacing specter. Up to the point of the transformation I had slowly moved about bent over at the waist in an attempt to look old and beaten down.

Then came my star turn.

No longer a dusty tramp, suddenly I was The Ghost.

I stretched up to my full height which towered over the actor playing Eb.

Menacing indeed.

Then the pointing started.

I pointed to the door indicating that we were leaving.

I pointed to Bob Cratchit toiling over his work.

I pointed to the brokenhearted Cratchit family sitting at a table minus the dearly departed, Tiny Tim.

Oh yes my friends, I pointed.

Then I exited stage left again and my part was over.

My first acting experience was way more fun than I thought it would be.

I never imagined myself actually doing a curtain call with so many other talented and dedicated performers.

It's doubtful that Hollywood will be calling me anytime soon but, in the meantime, any local productions in need of an actor with plenty of pointing experience, I'm your man.

Call me.

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin’ At The Dixie Moon and South O’Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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