COLLECTIVE: THEATRE MISHAPS (PART TWO)

WHAT IS YOUR FUNNIEST / CRAZIEST THEATRE MISHAP STORY?

(Some of these stories have been re-written / re-worded for clarity sake.)

 

#1

When I was 14, I played Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. In one scene, I had to open a ledger and peruse through it. For the last performance, the stagehands pasted photos of morbidly obese nude women onto the ledger pages, kind of like what you would see on “adult” greeting cards at Spencer gifts. I had a very tough time keeping a straight face.

#2

I was in a show that was very dependent on the timing of the sound cues in the music. Opening night, we were at the very climax of the show when the wrong music started playing. No one knew what to do because we were waiting for the sound cue but we were also supposed to be in real peril. So for a full five minutes all of us were yelling “Oh no!” As we stood awkwardly in our places.

freeze

#3

I ran lights for footloose and hit a cue too early… the cast had to do the last 5 or 6 seconds of a song in the dark.

#4

I did a monologue for a… “scholarship program” (read: beauty pageant). The mic went out for my entire performance. They rushed me offstage, gave me a new mic and sent me back out to reperform for the judges. But since I was being judged, I couldn’t do worse cuz then they’d see I let the tech difficulties get to me but I also couldn’t do better to show I had nerves the first time…. so I had to perform identically well… most stressful/weird performance.

april

#5

One time during Romeo and Juliet, Tybalt’s pants ripped completely open down the side. It was during a fight scene so he couldn’t even fix it.

#6

When I was Long John Silvers years ago, I had my leg in a sling so it looked like I only had “one leg” as the script goes. One of the barmaids spilled a bit of water and as I went across the stage my crutch slipped on the water sending me flying across the stage into the pirates.

crutches

#7

My best friend had written a monologue for his drama class in high school. The monologue was a crazy and violent guy who was yelling to himself. I remember one line was, “You should have taken your pills today now you’re going to have to hurt someone!” He stayed after school to practice and a teacher in the other room overheard him. She was FREAKED OUT. She got the Vice Principal to go talk him down and they almost called the police!

#8

This is not me personally but a young lady I knew was playing Kitty in The Drowsy Chaperone. During Toledo Surprise, she fell down and ended up fracturing her wrist. It was closing night and she still had to finish the second act.

ouch

#9

This one wasn’t during a live performance, but one time after a play I was joking around with my friend. I was trying to be “sexy” and I seductively wrapped my leg around one of the doors on set… only I didn’t know that one of my fellow actors was on the other side. So I accidentally creepily wrapped my leg around him!

#10

When I was in Hamlet, Hamlet and Laertes had a fight in the graveyard involving a pickax. Long story short, Hamlet got a pickax to the head. I didn’t realize what had happened because his back was to me. He fell forward and I rushed forward to grab him like I was choreographed to do and I remember thinking “that’s a lot of blood.” He cut his monologue short and rushed offstage. He and I had a scene together immediately after that and he came on holding a wad of paper towels to his head. We spent the scene taking turns holding the paper towels to the gash. He finished the show and then we rushed him to the hospital where he got 10 stitches. No more pickax after that.

 

Yikes! Stay safe thespians.

MINUS ONE: A Skit by Val Manwill

I obviously love stage mishaps so much, I mean, I’ve dedicated the whole last two months on it. But you know what’s even better than stage mishaps? A stage play ABOUT mishaps! Noises Off anyone??

Well anyway, a handful of years ago, I tried to write my own play within a play. And this is what I ended up with. It’s called Minus One. It’s quite an amateur piece of playwrighting, so that’s fine, just look past that. It was intended to be performed by 9th – 11th graders, if that gives you some kind of an idea. But I thought that it would be fun to share! So HERE YOU ARE:

 

 

 

 

MINUS ONE

By Val Manwill

 

 

 

 

 

ACT ONE

 

“Hamlet” rehearsal. SERVANT 4 enters, sets a sword and goblet on a table, then leaves. CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated.

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail—

 

Enter HAMLET

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir.

DIRECTOR:          (interrupting from the audience) Stop! Stop!

 

The actors groan.

 

DIRECTOR:          Hamlet. You were early. Again. I don’t know how you manage to be a perfect seven seconds early – every. Single. Time.

HAMLET:              I am sorry, but it’s incredibly hard to hear from the wings. I think it’s that air vent.

HORATIO:            (pokes his head from the curtains) It’s true. You really can’t hear a thing back here.

DIRECTOR:          Do you understand what’s going on in this scene?

HAMLET:              I, uh—

DIRECTOR:          They’re plotting your murder.

HAMLET:              Yeah…

DIRECTOR:          Isn’t that kind of hard to plot your murder if YOU’RE STANDING RIGHT THERE!?

HAMLET:              … Oh.

DIRECTOR:          I’m done with excuses. If you can’t hear the lines then count to 30 in your head and come out on stage. Take it again.

 

THE ACTORS reset and begin again.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated

LAERTES:              Heh, heh, heh. I’ll anoint my sword with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:          Let’s further think of this, if this should fail, I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison from LAERTES and pours it into the cup. LAERTES dips his sword into the poison cup. There is an awkward pause and then enter HAMLET.

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              I am satisfied in nature.

DIRECTOR:          Okay. Better!

 

Enter HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and SERVANT 4 who is carrying Hamlet’s sword. SERVANT 4 hands Hamlet the sword. LAERTES does a super goofy fencing maneuver but has one hand holding up his pants.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop. Laertes why are you only using one hand?

LAERTES:              My fencing pants are too big. I’m trying to hold onto them.

DIRECTOR:          Safety pin it.

LAERTES:              I can’t reach back there.

DIRECTOR:          Where’s Angie? (Calls) Angie!

HORATIO:            She’s helping the army of Fortenbras change in the green room.

DIRECTOR:          Then grab one of the servants running around back there to help you. We are grown adults, people! This shouldn’t be that hard! Continue please.

 

HAMLET and LAERTES fence.

 

DIRECTOR:          Servant 4 move to the back please. Further please. Thank you.

GERTRUDE:         The queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the cup

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

LAERTES:              (aside to CLAUDIUS) My lord, I’ll hit him now.

 

LAERTES stabs HAMLET. They fight, HAMLET stabs LAERTES with the poisoned sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed!

HORATIO:            They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (overdramatic) The drink! I am poisoned.

 

GERTRUDE dies in the most over the top way possible. THE OTHER ACTORS roll their eyes. THE DIRECTOR stands and applauds.

 

DIRECTOR:          My dear! Brilliant as always. That was fabulous! You were flawless.

GERTRUDE:         Well, of course it was. Would you expect anything else?

DIRECTOR:          Absolutely not. Please go on.

HORATIO:            (continuing) Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES:              It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good. The king, the king’s to blame.

HAMLET:              Here, thou incestuous, murderous, damnèd Dane, Drink off this potion. Follow my mother.

 

HAMLET forces CLAUDIUS to drink the poison. CLAUDIUS dies.

 

LAERTES:              He is justly served. Forgive me, noble Hamlet. (dies)

HAMLET:              Horatio, I am dead. Thou livest. If thou didst ever hold me in thy heart—

 

Suddenly, HAMLET makes the most obvious and ridiculous ‘blank face’ as he forgets his line.

 

DIRECTOR:          Stop! (To himself) So close. We were SO close!

HAMLET:              I forgot what comes next.

DIRECTOR:          How do you NOT have your lines memorized 2 hours before we OPEN THIS SHOW!

HAMLET:              I’m sorry. I just kind of freeze up you know?

DIRECTOR:          Trust me, I know. Everyone in the audience knows! It’s that stupid face that you make.

CLAUDIUS:          I can’t work like this.

HAMLET:              I’m sorry, really. I just don’t know how to improvise Shakespeare.

DIRECTOR:          I feel so unappreciated right now. I have given you the most coveted role in all of the last 500 years of theatre. I made you. When I met you, you were in a public library reciting The Night Before Christmas.

HAMLET:              That’s not fair. . . everyone loved my rendition of The Night Before Christmas.

DIRECTOR:          Just do this show – THE RIGHT WAY! Please! Surprise me for once. Continue.

HAMLET:              Draw thy breath in pain To tell my story. dies

HORATIO:            Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!

DIRECTOR:          Aaaaaand curtain! Good. Well, almost good. I feel like – things are too cluttered in this ending. Uh Servant 4?

SERVANT 4:         Yes?

DIRECTOR:          I don’t think we’ll be needing you for this ending scene. It doesn’t work with you there. You’re blocking most of the action.

GERTRUDE:         I think this scene should be for leads only.

DIRECTOR:          That’s just what I was thinking. Servant 4, thank you, but you’re cut. Everyone else, let’s set for this show.

 

Everyone leaves the stage except for SERVANT 4 who is almost in tears.

 

SERVANT 4:         “Cut”? Fine. I’m going home!

 

SERVANT 4 runs off the stage

 

 

ACT TWO

 

THE DIRECTOR stands on stage this time acknowledging the audience.

 

DIRECTOR:          Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all so much for coming to our version of the beloved play Hamlet. I wanted to give a quick message regarding the final scene- Act 5 scene 2. This scene is a very, very serious part of the play and we would appreciate it if all cell phones were turned off and uh, no talking please. Without further ado – The finale of Hamlet.

 

THE DIRECTOR sits down, and CLAUDIUS & LAERTES enter.

 

CLAUDIUS:         Here, young Laertes. A sword unbated—

 

CLAUDIUS & LAERTES look down at the table realizing the key props are missing.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Here is not a sword unbated.

LAERTES:              (scoots closer to the curtain and speaks loudly) Uhhh- Perhaps Lord Hamlet could bring me my sword.

CLAUDIUS:          Hamlet is going to bring YOU a POISIONED SWORD?

LAERTES:              Or perhaps I’ll fetch the sword myself! (Runs off stage)

CLAUDIUS:          (calls after LAERTES) Hey a chalice too. A chalice! (Follows LAERTES off stage)

 

Enter Hamlet

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes! Give me your pardon, sir… I have … done you wrong?

 

HAMLET looks around confused at finding himself alone on stage.

 

LAERTES:              I have the sword!

 

 HAMLET ducks down behind a chair as LAERTES enters with a sword from stage right and CLAUDIUS with a bottle of water from stage left.

 

LAERTES:              I’ll anoint it with an unction so mortal that there is none that can save the thing from death that is but scratched withal.

CLAUDIUS:           I’ll have prepared him a chalice.

LAERTES:              A bottle?

CLAUDIUS:          A CHALICE!

 

CLAUDIUS takes the poison and puts it into the bottle. LAERTES tries to get his sword in the bottle but the opening is too small.

 

LAERTES:              (whispering)  It won’t go!

 

From behind the couch, HAMLET silently counts to 30 on his fingers..

 

HAMLET:              Dearest Laertes!

 

HAMLET pops up from behind the chair startling CLAUDIUS and LAERTES who violently spills the water in the bottle.

 

HAMLET:              Give me your pardon, sir. I’ve done you wrong.

LAERTES:              (sarcastically) I am satisfied in nature.

 

Enter HORATIO and GERTRUDE

 

CLAUDIUS:          (to HORATIO) Give him his foil.

HORATIO:            What, Me?

CLAUDIUS:          (through his teeth) Just get it.

 

Exit HORATIO. LAERTES begins his elaborate and goofy fencing move.

 

LAERTES:              Come, my lord.

HAMLET:              I – I can’t fight you without a sword.

 

LAERTES’ pants drop to his ankles.

 

LAERTES:              Very well. I shall fight you… when you have… a sword. If you’ll excuse me just a moment.

 

With his pants still around his ankles he waddles off stage. HAMLET sits in the chair, waiting.

 

GERTRUDE:         (slightly panicked) Uhh the queen carouses to thy fortune, Hamlet.

 

GERTRUDE picks up the water bottle.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Gertrude, seriously. Do not drink.

GERTRUDE:         I will, my lord. I pray you, pardon me. (drinks)

 

THE DIRECTOR crawls “inconspicuously” on the stage and places a new cup on the table. GERTRUDE begins her dramatic over the top death scene.

 

GERTRUDE:         The drink! I am poisoned. (dies)

CLAUDIUS:          Um, actually dear. (Pointing to the new cup) I believe this is the poisoned one.

GERTRUDE:         Oh.

 

Gertrude gets up, walks over to the new cup and takes a sip.

 

GERTUDE:           Oh NO! The drink! I am poisoned. (Re-dies)

 

THE DIRECTOR drags Claudius offstage by his robe.

 

CLAUDIUS:          I will return. Delay the sword fight. Tarry!

 

CLAUDIUS and THE DIRECTOR exit stage left as HORATIO runs in stage right.

 

HORATIO:            I’ve got the sword. I’ve got it!

 

HORATIO trips on the water spill and is knocked unconscious. HAMLET turns around and breaks the fourth wall, making the same ridiculously blank face as earlier. He stands up.

 

HAMLET:              (attempting to improvise)  Tis . . . tis . . . twas . . . the night before Christmas and all through the house. Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care-

 

Suddenly LAERTES rushes in with the original goblet and splashes HAMLET in the face.

 

LAERTES:              Aha! It is here, Hamlet. Hamlet, thou art slain. No medicine in the world can do thee good.

 

Re-enter CLAUDIUS with another sword.

 

CLAUDIUS:          Part them! They are incensed.

 

THE DIRECTOR enters stage right and picks up HORATIO’s limp body. He moves him around like a puppet.

 

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) They bleed on both sides!

GERTRUDE:         (from the ground) The cup! I am poisoned!

DIRECTOR:          (as Horatio) Now cracks a noble heart.—Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing me to my rest! CURTAIN! CURTAIN!

 

THE ACTORS freeze and SERVANT 4 enters, addressing the audience.

 

SERVANT 4:         The moral of our little play is that no one person is bigger than another. No matter how small of a part you think you do, you can make a GIANT difference!

 

fin

 

COLLECTIVE: THEATRE MISHAPS (PART ONE)

WHAT IS YOUR FUNNIEST LIVE PERFORMANCE MISHAP STORY?

(Some of these stories have been re-written / re-worded for clarity sake.)

 

#1

I was teching a show once when the power blew out. The theater went completely pitch black for a full couple of minutes while I ran all the way to the power box to flip the breakers.

#2

My hair got caught in another actor’s button while my character was passed out. Both the actors on stage spent several minutes trying to get my hair free from the button, but they ended up having to rip my hair. The audience absolutely lost it and thought it was the funniest thing ever. I managed to maintain my composure and not laugh or open my eyes.

haircaught

#3

I once went down a dark hall to opening curtain and banged my shin into a wooden box. I was out on stage with my legs bleeding all over. The show must go on. Later turned into a huge blood problem called Mersa and almost lost my leg.

#4

I was a maid in the play and I was supposed to come out and give one of the actors a cup of tea. One time during a live performance I couldn’t find my prop teacup and in a panic another actor handed me a random glass to take out. It had some kind of liquid in it but I didn’t pay any attention to it. I gave him the glass and returned backstage. The other actor who gave me the glass freaked out and asked me why I hadn’t told him not to drink it. I asked him why, what was in it. He said, “I don’t know, I just found it out in the hall.” Glad I hadn’t poisoned him!

spittake

#5

Once in Three Musketeers I was to put my head on a solid box after a battle scene. Someone mistakenly put a different a light weight box down.. during a fight scene my head went thru the box and caught my head and ears… the light came up again and I lied there in the box for four or so minutes until the scene change. The show must go on.

#6

I was once in a play that was specifically put on for Elementary kids. In one scene, I had to read a book with my back turned towards the audience. The prop I had was an old medical book with illustrations. And I swear every single time I cracked the book open it would open to a big drawing of a penis that I would accidentally flash the kids with!

book close

#7

It was the last show before striking the set, and I had done the show so many times that it was all second nature to me. So, in my off time, I settled in and started playing Zelda on my DS. I got so absorbed that I missed my cue for about 10 minutes and they couldn’t find me. Pretty embarrassing.

#8

When I was Friar Tuck in Robin Hood. I had costume mishap. There was a part where I swing Robin Hood around on my back. One show, his sword caught my pants and pulled them down. I ad-libbed and said, “Robin you’re a leg man I see.” To this day people think that was part of the script.

pants

#9

For class, we decided to do the ending scene from A Streetcar Named Desire. We weren’t able to get a sugar glass bottle made in time so we decided to use a real one. Big mistake. Somewhere in between breaking the bottle and the tussle, my partner pushed my hand back and I cut up the side of my nose with the glass. We finished out the scene, I bowed and then ran to the bathroom to take care of my bleeding face.

#10

My first show after having a baby was “Annie.” I was Lily St Regis and at one point rooster would throw me over his shoulder and run off stage. Well, this particular show, when he threw me over his shoulder, I ripped a huge fart. His mic was right next to my butt sooooo the whole audience heard it.

 

Part Two comes out next month! If you have any mishap stories to contribute be sure to send them to me!

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…
713TEUDfOrL._UY445_
… 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.