Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Breaking of Bread

 When Mr. Vivian was planning the drama season for 1972-73, he originally wanted to do a play around the death of Jesus, but there were some limitations around our stage, and it would be too big to produce, so he settled on "Laura".  The spring play was to be a bedroom farce, but the female lead didn't want to kiss me, so that was scrapped.  In between the two plays, he planned to do a one-act play about the Civil War called "The Breaking of Bread".  It involved two soldiers, one Union and one Confederate, who meet on a battlefield.  There were about five other guys, who played dead soldiers.  I was cast as the Confederate.  Dennis, who had just played the lead in "Laura" was cast as the Yankee soldier.  His parents objected.  They didn't want Dennis to play a Union soldier, so the parts were switched, and I was the Union soldier, and Dennis was the Southerner. 
 We rehearsed for a few weeks.  We were to do the play in chapel for the students at Anderson College.  The play was set outdoors, so we tried to get a little realism in there by spreading leaves all over the stage, and get a tree stump to put near the middle of the stage.  We also put limbs around the back of the stage.  There were two fight scenes, and we choreographed them.  Since I couldn't wear my glasses in this play, I had to memorize where everything was on stage, so I wouldn't run into anything.  I also had to know when Dennis was going to throw a punch.  We scheduled the play to run just before Thanksgiving. 
 The first performance was for chapel.  During the first fight scene, Dennis threw a punch, and I wasn't ready.  He caught me on my nose, and it started bleeding.  I had to carry on.  Later, some folks in the audience asked me how I got ketchup up my nose to get it to look like it was bleeding.  I told them it was magic.  During the second fight scene, the object was to fight over a rifle and Dennis would come up with it.  Unfortunately, the rifle was brown and so were the leaves.  It got lost under the leaves, and we couldn't find it.  The play couldn't continue until we found the rifle, so I started by slinging him across the stage, and he felt under the leaves for it but it wasn't there.  He did the same thing to me.  No gun.  Panic set in.  The fight scene went on longer.  Dennis flipped me over him, and I landed on the gun, hurting my back.  I held it up to him, and he grabbed it.  We could then proceed with the play.  The audience never knew.  Toward the end of the play, there is a climatic duel.  I had rigged my gun with a cap, which would go off.  Unfortunately, when I pulled the trigger, nothing happened.  I tried again, and the cap didn't fire.  It had worked great in rehearsal.  So, I made up a line about Yankee guns not working right.  It got a little laugh from the audience.  Dennis's gun fired. 
 The reaction to the play was very positive, and there were three churches in the area that wanted us to come and do it there.  The fight scenes went okay, although my back had not healed, so I would reinjure it every time.  At our third church, we did the scene, and Dennis slammed into the stump.  After the play was over, we were in the restroom of the church changing our clothes, when Dennis asked me what a broken wrist looked like.  His hand was swollen.  Mr. Vivian had to take him to the hospital.
 The play had a powerful message, but it was jinxed.  About three years later, I had to direct a one-act for my Senior year at Presbyterian College.  I picked "The Breaking of Bread", but I rewrote it to be a story of World War III.  One character was from America, and the other was British.  I cast two actors from the Theatre program.  One of the two said something funny during rehearsal, and I laughed at him.  He thought I was laughing at his performance, and he got offended and walked off of the set.  I had to recast it with a week to go.  It went off okay, but it wasn't memorable.  After all, that play was jinxed.

No comments:

Post a Comment