We had our first dress rehearsal for Noises Off tonight, right? And everything’s going pretty great so far, right?
So we’re about 4 minutes into Act III, and I’m supposed to go through a door and catch a prop as it’s thrown in after me. The space I enter after going through this door is only large enough to allow the door into it to open to a 90 degree angle, and then immediately to your left there are two large set braces, directly in front of you there are the bottom four steps of a curving stair case, and to the right is a cubby hole with a four foot high ceiling.
Not exactly the most accommodating spot on set, but at least it’s not 20′ off the ground like other parts of the set so generally I don’t much mind it.
Or at least– I didn’t mind it.
So there I am. I’ve run through this door, bent over in the small space so I could tuck my rear end into the cubby hole, and brought my arms up tightly to my body so I can thrust my hands forward at just the right moment to catch the prop about to be thrown my way. I see the prop, I see it’s about to be thrown, I lift my right hand up and out AND CATCH MY FINGERTIP ON MY RIGHT NOSTRIL WITH SO MUCH SPEED AND FORCE THAT I TEAR OPEN THE INSIDE CAUSING AN IMMEDIATE GUSHING OF BLOOD.
There is a lengthy pause.
“Is everyone all right back there?” questioned the director.
“Oh… f*@#…,” I explained, as I begin catching the blood in my hand.
I leaned forward to keep from getting blood on my costume and squeezed my way past the wooden stage brace, only to find that in the past 7 seconds my hand had literally filled with blood and my nose was still streaming merrily away.
Enter: Sarah Laak Hughes, to the rescue.
Now the funny thing about it being Sarah who came to help out- before anyone else even realized anything was wrong- is that this is exactly the same thing her character does, and for the exact same reason, in this show.
The equally funny thing, though perhaps painfully so in this case, is that my character in the show is probably the most likely to accidentally give herself a bloody nose while “acting.”
It’s about the most unfortunate case of type casting I’ve ever been a part of. May I live it down in peace. *cross cross cross*
So there I am heading for the scene shop sink to let myself bleed out, only to get there and find it filled with painting supplies waiting to be washed. I like Sunset’s Technical Director and have no desire to bleed on his paint trays, so it was fortunate that Sarah arrived at just that moment to hand me an enormous wad of paper towels, which I promptly bled straight through, while she cleaned off my bloody hand like the champ she is.
My God it was disgusting.
Then came wad number two of paper towels, followed by our director, Mark Salentine, to whom I proceeded to explain that I had not actually been hit in the face with the thrown prop, as was the current suspicion on stage, but that I had in fact bloodied my nose my own damned self. I couldn’t tell you which of us was laughing more loudly at this, except that his was probably the clearer laugh as mine was still muffled by a face full of bright red towels.
After being given a kitchen towel filled with ice cubes, onto which I promptly bled a perfect rectangle as I sought to ease the burning sensation, I thought: Yes! At last! I’m ready to go on! But wait– I’m now standing up straight and– what’s this in my throat? Why am I suddenly unable to speak?
Oh of course. My uvula is playing tether ball with a blood clot the size of a jelly bean and I’ve no sink into which to… to… you know…
That poor under-sink trash can. Never saw me coming.
So there you go. An evening of creation, of art, of design, literature, friendship, and self discovery, in which I learned for good and for always that I was not built for street fights, my friends. I wasn’t even built to meet the dominant kickball team by the playground after school. And now here I sit, none too worse for the wear, but infinitely the wiser as I realize the only thing I have to fear is finger itself, and that I truly am my own worst enemy.