…funk for the old soul…

A Reenacted Life

Posted by crowbiz on May 22, 2008

Just like I don’t want to have my own restaurant, I don’t want to be an actor. My job, of course, already entails acting; the usual schedule is three performances, three days a week, before audiences comprised of undergraduates in various states of interest, indifference, stupefaction or slumber. I do it all without much of a script, no special lighting, rarely any sound equipment, shockingly little make-up and a questionable wardrobe. I’ve considered getting a $29 dollar laugh track and applause machine that can be operated by foot pedal (sold as kiddie props for puttin’ on a show!), but the downtime for laughter breaks might seriously cut into my lecture time, and we can’t have that.

What I could really dig would be gigs as a Reenactment Actor for different history and real-life story TV programs. This is the easy street of thespianism if ever there was one. Think of it – what’s called for are regular people in regular roles, with little or no dialogue! You need absolutely no special characteristics other than a free few days to repeatedly play dead in a recreated peasant village, or run hysterically through the house as the “tornado” approaches. The people you see in these shows are just like you and me, and the neighbor, and the guy at the mini-mart, and the lady who walks her dog every day at noon, and your high school gym teacher, and on and on. Their very regular-ness is what is valuable. You don’t picture Angelina Jolie as Displaced Visigoth #17 on the History Channel or George Clooney as Blizzard-stranded Insurance Agent on the Weather Channel’s “Storm Stories.” You picture Chuck, the guy who rotates your tires.

Oh, I have no delusions about landing plum roles such as Attila’s Concubine, or Thomas Edison’s mother, or (dare I say it?) Madame Curie, or Caligula’s sister, Drusilla. But I’d be a damned servicable nomad, bystander, housewife, victim. Considering my age and the demographics of most periods of history, I’d be fated to play matrons, not maids. No matter. I’d relish every moment where the menacing Roman soldier approaches me and evidently asks for directions… I stop grinding meal but keep my eyes averted as I sheepishly point a direction for him. Of course, the narrator and various experts provide the voice-overs and all we actors need do is pantomime. No blowing lines! Sure, the exasperated director might yell “Cut! No, no, you have to look MORE sheepish. OK, let’s take it from the meal-grinding again…”, but otherwise, it’d be a sweet run.

I would particularly love to do scenes of tragedy or disaster. “Animal Miracles” would show me as the Lost Hiker, hammishly dragging my body along with two broken legs, covered in stage blood. My big moment would be my one line, uttered as my collie comes to save me, call for help, and drag me the remainder of the five miles. “Sadie! Good girl! Good…girl….Sadie…” For Haunted Reenactments I could run around in a panic mewling “Who’s there?! Is anybody THERE?! Just STOP!” (which rather resembles my real life, except my real life lacks the poltergeist).
My wildest dream, though, is to be a peasant mown down in some kind of uprising or pillage scene, or felled by plague. How satisfying it would be to collapse clumsily onto some straw, my crudely woven basket of root vegetables flung from my grasp, my coarse burlap shift flopping loosely around my soon to be lifeless body. Fake blood, again, would be essential, and some festering bubous would just about take the cake.

That right there is a pretty compelling reason for me to love something I wouldn’t want to do.


One Response to “A Reenacted Life”

  1. Helen said

    If I were an actress I would love to play the role of Alice Paul.

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