The Worst Idea I’ve Ever Had Publicly Performed

18Oct10
Via Greencolander on Flickr

The average reaction viewers gave while watching Northview High School's Cats Meow 2002.

“Here’s what I want,” I said. “During this dance scene, I want a guy in a rabbit costume to hop out on stage.”

“Why a rabbit costume?”

“They’re cheap, you know? It’ll be easy to get. Anyway, guy in a rabbit costume hops out. Dancers dance around it. Make a big spectacle of it.”

I took a long drink of water. My co-writers were trying to imagine the bunny costume.

“The costume has a harness on it. During the dance, we attach a rope to the harness, lift the bunny up. He’s dancing, he’s shaking during the performance.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Finally, performance ends. Dancers exit the stage. We close the curtain, set up for the next scene, but leave the guy in the bunny costume hanging above the stage. Swaying and slowly twisting, right?”

Another drag of my water.

“And then we just plow through the rest of the play like it’s not there.”

I widened my eyes and scanned faces. It was a joking pitch, but if there was any hint of any of my co-writers being on board, I was going to pounce on it.

Not a hint in sight. One writer wrinkled her nose.

“Why a rabbit, again?”

“Because it has nothing to do with the play. People will be expecting something, but then, nothing happens.”

Blank stares.

This high school senior play was already becoming a jumbled mess. Nothing worked. The plot was rough and hacky. Run-throughs were clocking in at nearly 3 hours and every single page that I had written I absolutely hated. I had a team of 5 other co-writers, but I carried a majority of the writing load. And an absolute load it was.

Watching the thing in motion was like watching somebody fall down a staircase. Audience members seeing the production reached out their hands to try and stop it, but by that time, the fall was well on its way.

Tapes exist of this production, but I do not have one. I loaned my only copy to a friend to watch, only to be told that he taped half an episode of “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” over the middle of it.

“It’s probably better that way,” he said.

And it wasn’t performed just once. No, that would be too easy for people to dismiss as a bad dream or disturbing memory they had as a child. It was performed three separate times. Things would occur on stage for no reason. Scenes would end arbitrarily and with little to no punchline. Talent and dance sections would drag on for hours. Jokes hinged on awful pop culture references or sound effects.

And, in a nod to “Clue,” we had written three different endings of the performance, each one worst than the last. I’m really curious how families in the crowd reacted. Seeing their son or daughter being on stage as a part of this monster must have combined pride with shock and revulsion.

The bunny thing didn’t happen.

But, I did receive a concession for the rabbit. To give you an idea of what made it in, during a scene involving a talk show, the host would mention that the main character brought a clip. A screened lowered, and this was looped and shown about ten times:

This damn dog was probably the biggest laugh of the night. So, Rusty, wherever you’re passed out now, I appreciated the help.

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2 Responses to “The Worst Idea I’ve Ever Had Publicly Performed”

  1. 1 Andrea

    “He runs and he runs and he runs…and he sleeps…”

  2. 2 Lisa Dubya

    Leave the poor dog alone!


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