Saturday, February 5, 2011
So, we closed Hysteria last weekend.
And I was also in tech for Giovanni's Room.
And I had the flu.
With a temperature of 103.
Seriously, I could barely move or say my own name, I was so sick.
And, no, we don't have understudies.
It's either perform sick, or cancel the show.
So I performed Hysteria Saturday and Sunday, running around in purple boxer shorts, sick as a dog.
Because, of course, "the show must go on".
But HOW it goes on is by a miracle that only sickly stage actors can experience.
Tommy and I call it "Dr. Footlights".
Dr. Footlights is that strange occurrence when - no matter HOW sick you are - you are instantly healed for the duration of the performance (but no longer).
It's a little like when ordinary people suddenly possess superhuman strength, and lift cars off of pinned-down loved ones.
I'm sure there's a logical explanation for it.
I'm sure it's a combination of adrenaline, nerves and those free Ricolas they keep in the dressing rooms.
But it clicks in, maybe 20 minutes before you go onstage, and remains with you for the rest of the show.
Sometimes Dr. Footlights is operating and you don't even know it.
It's rare, for example, that you remember the exact second when you get sick.
Usually it comes on slowly, you start to feel a little achy, you wake up with a headache, etc, etc.
But I remember being seized with one of the worst bouts of flu EVER, and all the symptoms collectively hit me full force during the final bows of Richard III.
Seriously: during the bows.
I felt perfectly FINE that whole closing weekend.
It was as if my body instinctively KNEW I couldn't possibly be sick until that run was over and had somehow been holding the virus at bay until the final second.
Meanwhile, Tommy once fell off his sedan chair offstage during King Stag, got back on, performed the rest of the show, and then found out later he had cracked two ribs.
I also watched him perform Uncle Vanya and you would NEVER have known that he was in the throes of that nasty virus you get on cruise ships.
(I got it too, but I was only in rehearsal and Dr. Footlights doesn't necessarily work in rehearsal. You need an actual performance scenario for him to appear.)
And I don't want to sound corny here, but there's something weirdly healing in being onstage.
For the next two hours or so, you are someone else, and you only have to worry about their problems and needs and desires.
You can forget about your own for a while.
And that's a gift, at least for some of us...