Perils of Performance

For those of you who like hearing my tales of the unexpected –those moments of panic when things go bump on the stage–in other words, when something unusual or funny goes wrong while performing, here is yet another episode:

Someone had failed to prepare the dear elderly lady in the tenth pew from the front. Indeed it was to her credit that she was in church at all; her recent stroke had left her mental capacities somewhat diminished. She came expecting church as usual. A traditional worship service with the hymns, prayers and sermon at the proper place and time. She certainly wasn’t expecting some actor to be on the platform and especially and actor proclaiming himself to be an angel–as I was on this particular Sunday (performing the Valiant Papers).

Barely five minutes into my performance she could stand it no longer. In what I’m sure she thought was a whisper she turned to her husband and spoke loud enough for the people up in pew five to hear, “Who let that idiot in here?”

I could both see and hear the disruption but was– fortunately –unable to hear her words. For the next 45 minutes or so I had a “co-star” as this woman gave a running commentary on my performance to those around her. It was difficult to continue but the “show must go on.” I hoped that someone would kindly ask her to leave but realized the possibility of causing an even bigger scene was probably not worth the risk. I must admit it was rather amusing, even from my perspective, as I watched those around her turn ten shades of purple in their desperate attempts to subdue their laughter.

Now, if only the play had been a comedy. . .

And Another One

Someone left the door open at my performance of In His Steps at Warner Pacific College, in Portland, Oregon. A “cute little kitten” wandered in, through the audience and up onto the stage with me. As you can probably guess, the audience was so captivated by my performance that they didn’t even notice the kitten–yeah, right. While it was on the stage I thought, I’ll just reach down and pick up the little scene-stealer and hand it to someone in the audience. Well, that didn’t exactly work. That dumb cat abruptly scatted. Finally, someone managed to capture and escort it out of the room. The audience managed to be very cordial through the ordeal, although I did notice a number of purple faces–you know the kind you get from trying to suppress a loud outburst of laughter. It was W.C. Fields who said never perform with children or animals. Well, he was right!

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