The Puppet Switch

This is my all time favorite theater mishap story to tell. I can’t help laughing anytime I think about it.

So I was in this darling children’s play. My friend had written a stage adaption for the children’s book Ferdinand the Bull. And in this play, we had puppets. When the bull characters are kids at the beginning of the play, they are portraited with puppets. The actors would be on stage with our little puppets walking them around… almost as if we were out there playing with stuffed animals (just to give you the idea). Then at the very end, we would get into our full bull costumes in order to become ‘the adult versions”.

super cute
This…
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… to this.

It was a day play. And since we performed for school kids we typically held shows in the morning. One of my fellow actors had a night job as a security guard at the time. We’ll call him… Ryan, or something. So more often than not, Ryan would work a graveyard and then come straight to the theater right afterward. So in his defense… that would make any human being just a wee bit more than loopy!

I was supposed to come barreling out with my puppet (Torpedo) run him around the stage and start fighting with Ryan’s puppet. We had this like goofy little fight choreographed where the puppets got up on their hind legs and kick each other, spin around and flip! It was really cute and the kids loved it.

So I get ready to bust out through the curtains like any other day. I hear my cue. Bam! And what do I see? I don’t see Ryan with a little puppet. Oh no. I see Ryan in his grown-up bull costume on all fours.

Ummmmmm kay.

There was this weird moment where the play just froze. I completely stopped dead in my tracks and stared at Ryan. Ryan looked back at me with this freaking unforgettable face. His smile said this is perfectly normal. But his eyes said I’ve made a serious mistake, please help.

help

Um, the show must go on, I guess? I kept going with the scene. I ran around and fought Ryan with my puppet. Everything that we had blocked out with these little toy puppets, he now had to do himself. I can’t even begin to tell you how awkward that was. Slamming my little-stuffed animal into his head and him like wiggling his arms and batting the puppet around. I don’t know how it was even possible to keep face and not laugh at how confusing this must be to the audience. Like, why?? What is the artistic direction in this? Why are these kid bulls hanging around this creepy adult bull? I don’t even know.

The best part is, he was in too deep. He couldn’t even fix his mistake, because now the audience thinks that’s part of the show. He had to do THE WHOLE REST OF THE SHOW in this adult bull costume that’s only supposed to be at the end. Every weird thing we had blocked with the puppets, he had to try to mimic.

… Whenever I have a bad day, I just think of this.

MY LIFE AS AN ACTRESS: A TIMELINE

Before I start, here’s a warning: I started writing this post before I realized that… This is probably not very interesting to anyone other than me… But I wrote it anyways. Sometimes I just write stuff to archive for myself, so take it as it is. Maybe it WILL be interesting to you. Or at the very least you can get a general idea of my love affair with acting through the ages.

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4 or 5 YEARS OLD – My passion for acting (and writing consequently) really begins with my sister. We used to write our own plays, figure out the blocking and costumes, then put them on for our mom or sometimes a camera. It was all I wanted to do all day, every day. The games/plays that I would put on with my sister were almost always hilarious. We loved comedy. Strangely enough, though, it was the opposite when my sister wasn’t available. The games that I played by myself were incredibly melodramatic. Things like trying to survive a shipwreck (wading pool) or saving people that had been swept away from a tornado (getting my toys back out after my mom had come and cleaned up). Playing pretend was just the beginning.

9 YEARS OLD – I still LOVED putting on plays. So much in fact that I would write and direct plays at recess and then beg my teacher to let me do performances for the class. After a long while of interrupting class time, my teacher told my mother that she should consider enrolling me in acting lessons. She did. And I fell. In. Love. Head over heels.

14 YEARS OLD – Still ALL about acting. Writing and putting on plays for my church talent show. I could FINALLY take Drama in Jr. High… so wrote more plays for that even though it wasn’t a requirement to do so. 9th grade was my first ever experience with Shakespeare. Unforgettable. I was living the dream in my awkward gawkward middle school body.

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16 to 17 YEARS OLD – Okay, here’s where things get crazy. So I’ll just try to break this down as best as I can. Like a timeline within a timeline… Junior year, I performed in the school play. Then I got into filmmaking with my friends. Then I had an internship teaching theater at a Jr. High. Then I performed in another school play. And then finally I auditioned for my very first professional performance and got the leading part. And that theater couldn’t get rid of me for a long time after that.

18ish YEARS OLD – I worked a lot with Utah Children’s Theater. I acted in a few more plays there. I also worked regularly as a House Manager and had a couple of opportunities as a stage manager.

this is better

19 YEARS OLD – I went to school at Southern Utah University where I studied Classical Acting for a year.  So, obviously, my schedule was jampacked full of lovely theatre things. I decided that I missed Utah Children’s Theater, plus I ran out of money so I came back home.

20-21 YEARS OF AGE – The following Salt Lake years I spent more time at the Theater I had adopted as my home. I was an off and on stage manager, house manager, actress, teacher, assistant director, and tech person. I even came to every rehearsal of a play that I wasn’t in or managing in any way… I just loved that play so much that I kept showing up even though no one was paying me or asking me to. That’s a true story.

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23-24 YEARS OF AGE – When I returned from my mission, I got another job at the theater I loved so much. This time as a Box Office Manager. I also started studying Elementary Education at the University of Utah as well as pursuing a K-6 theater endorsement. During my time at the U, I was introduced to THE BEST PROGRAM EVER. ArtsBridge! (Here’s a video of me talking about how great it is). I began training to become a “Theater Specialist” and worked with a lot of REALLY COOL elementary schools in the Salt Lake area. I loved this job so much! SO SO MUCH!

26 YEARS OLD – After I got married, I became the sole provider as my husband was in graduate school and the stage was put on hold. There soon came a time where we had saved up enough money for me to be able to quit my full-time job and go back to school. When I did, I immediately ran back to ArtsBridge and did a ton more cool stuff at Pacific Heritage Academy (all big and pregnant with Jack).

After having my darling boys, I had to hang up my acting cap for a while and become a theatre patron. I don’t feel like it’s the end. I just feel like it’s “a break” while my kids are little. Ultimately, I imagine never truly giving up acting. Anytime I see an old woman on a TV show or a commercial I’m like THAT WILL BE ME.