Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SLIP OF THE TONGUE (01/26/17)
By JC Hummel
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As they rehearsed for the second night’s performance, Lucien grew impatient with their incompetence. Patricia, who played Julia, constantly complained about her costume being too tight, and when Marino, who had a small role playing one of the outlaws forgot his next line, Lucien lost his patience and yelled at him, “Are you kidding me? Mr. Marino can’t you remember a few simple words? This is outrageous,” and he flung his script in the air and stormed off the stage.
Patricia whispered to Reggie, “I am so sick of Lucien’s aggression. He waltzes around the stage as if he’s a god.”
“I know, where’s karma when you need it?”
Lucien stomped over to the director, “Seriously, Victor, I don’t know how you expect me to work in this environment. Do you know how important it is that we get good reviews? Marino doesn't even know the few lines he has.”
Victor spoke calmly, “He does know his lines, but after his accident, he’s had a hard time recalling them sometimes, especially when he is under pressure.”
“Last night his missed a line, — during opening night — the opening night for pity’s sakes, and today it’s worse.”
“We have a prompter, it’s not a problem.”
“He’s such a buffoon and does nothing for the play.”
Victor stood up from his chair, “He’s been with the company for decades, and I’m not going to fire him if that’s what you’re suggesting.”
Marino heard the men yelling and walked away with his head bowed humiliated that he had caused such a commotion.
Lucian was furious with Victor and retreated to his dressing room hoping it would help relieve his stress. “I know, I’ll checkout last night’s reviews, that will cheer me up.” Unfortunately, the first review he checked online, was not positive. He read it out loud, “Mr. Devereaux is much too old to play this role. His version of Proteus is unconvincing. What!” He couldn't believe his eyes. He searched for another review, surely this one would be better. “Lucien Devereaux’s performance tonight was trite and forced.”
He felt nauseous, “This can’t be happening,” he said running his fingers through his hair. “How could they say such awful things about me?”
For the first time in many years he felt fear when he walked onto the stage to a full house. He managed to get through most of his performance but then the words of the reviewer swarmed in his head. Trite and forced. Trite and forced was all he could hear. He paused and started the first line of his next speech. “Go, go be gone to trite your … to force your …” He looked out into the audience. “I’m sorry, I misspoke,” and he paused “to save your…" He felt powerless and stood motionless on the stage unable to speak. Then someone in the audience laughed out loud.
Embarrassed, he fell on his knees and cried into his hands. The other actors taken by surprise looked at him in shocked silence.
Murmurs came from the audience as they realized this was not part of the play.
Marino who had been standing stage left went to him and knelt beside him whispering, “It’s okay Mr Devereux. You can do it,” and he took his arm and helped him to his feet.
For the first time in a very long time Lucien felt humbled and he stood up with Marino’s help. Then the audience erupted into cheers and applause. After a few minutes the play resumed and Lucien gave a wonderful performance that night. During the final bow, Lucien made sure to stand next to Marino and took his hand and they bowed together, while the crowd gave a standing ovation.
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