As the old year draws to a close and the new year begins, it is a season for remembering. Silly sentimentalists (such as myself) reminisce about days long past. I was recently caught up in pleasant recollections when the memory of a certain incident shattered my calm. Even now, years later, the memory of that incident chills my heart.
It was the memory of That Time I Was Trapped in a Stage Kiss.
I dabbled in drama when I was in high school. My favorite role was that of the eponymous character in a one-act play by Anton Chekhov titled “The Brute.” I was privileged to play the role of an unkempt, uncouth and short-tempered Russian named Smirnov. It was great fun.
The play had two other characters, a sharp-tongued widow called Madam Popov and her servant Luka. “The Brute” consisted of a long argument between Smirnov and Madam Popov that ended with them falling in love and kissing. This kiss was supposed to be interrupted by Luka, who believed Smirnov was about to shoot Madam Popov and rushed in with a pitchfork to save the day.
I have many shortcomings. One of them is that I’m somewhat uncomfortable with physical displays of affection. I generally dislike hugs. Kisses—even stage kisses—are simply out of the question. However, altering Chekhov’s script was impossible. I had no choice but to pretend to kiss someone passionately on a stage in front of an audience.
According to the script, Smirnov and Madam Popov were supposed to remain locked in a loving embrace until Luka came onstage with the pitchfork. Well, to make a long story short, Luka lost the pitchfork during one of the performances and remained backstage looking for it, leaving Smirnov and Madam Popov to set a record for the longest stage kiss in the history of theater.
All right, it probably wasn’t the longest stage kiss ever. But it was pretty dashed long.
Apart from the awkwardness of kissing someone in front of an audience, the stage kiss was pretty hard on my back since I had to hold up Madam Popov. (If this doesn’t seem so bad, try supporting someone’s weight while pretending to kiss on a stage with an audience watching and see how you like it.)
At last Luka rushed onto stage sans pitchfork, allowing us to end the kiss and bring “The Brute” to its conclusion.
Fortunately, the actress playing the role of Madam Popov had a sense of humor. Even I laughed about the incident afterward, though I rather wished for a steadying shot or two of strong coffee.
The actor playing Luka was jokingly accused of hiding the pitchfork deliberately to prolong the kiss onstage. Much to my consternation, the same accusation was directed at me—as though I would deliberately inflict such an experience upon myself and another performer. I never did find out what happened to the pitchfork.
The incident could probably be made into a mystery story, perhaps titled The Interminable Kiss or Who Hid the Pitchfork? Someone else will have to write it, though. It goes against all my authorial instincts to write stories about kissing.
On that cheerful note, my typewriter monkeys and I wish you a joyful end to the old year and a hopeful start to the new!
I don’t remember that particular incident. I do, however, remember your particular consternation on the day of the read-through upon learning that you would be expected to “passionately kiss.” I remember you saying something like “I didn’t sign up for this.” Me being my 10th grade self I thought it was absolutely hilarious, though I doubt I would have felt the same were it me who had landed the role of Smirnov.
Oh good times in drama!
That must`ve been some of the longest minutes of your life, I would be really displeased, to say the least, as well.
Happy new year to you too! I wish you and the blog all the good stuff for 2012!
As someone who has, rather surreptitiously, read all of your posts (they’re all quite clever and enjoyable, I must say, even if I have little appreciation for video games), I can easily say this is my favorite.
There is probably an element of vanity in this, as it is the only one in which I’m privileged to play a role, but there we have it!
It amused me exceedingly at the time, and continues to do so now (you yourself remarked upon my sense of humor!) but I do feel badly about the amount it discomfited you. I had no idea you were so shaken by our shared experience, and I AM rather sorry about your back!
For the record, you handled yourself beautifully as an actor and especially as an actor to work opposite. 🙂
I’m glad you liked the post! It was fun doing “The Brute” (in spite of the pitchfork incident) and I enjoyed working with you. Happy New Year!
It certainly was one of my favorites of all the plays I was privileged to perform in during my time at AAI! Happy New Year to you as well!
This is hilarious. Were I to find myself in the same situation I probably would have just started laughing. Glad you were able to keep your composure!!!