I’m getting to know the peripheral characters in the cast today just a bit more. The cast I’ve created, and the future cast of the play. Sally is someone with an interesting past, and she has an adoring suitor. She and Martin were introduced in Part 1, and Sally will play a supporting role once the play is cast. Today, I’m focusing on the meeting where the theater director begins to explain the play to his ensemble. I’m happy imagining how the play changes people who read it. Onward into the darkness . . . a curtain call is always on the horizon.
“We are all demonic!”—Queen Stormag
Another killer painting from my father that sets the mood. Visit this site to see more of my father’s paintings, my mother’s too: www.bogdanovitch.com.
The Play (The Queen’s Idle Fancy)
“Hello Roger. How was your weekend?”
“I got through the storm. What about you and the kids, Sally?”
“The last of the fall leaves are off the trees. Wasn’t as bad as they made it out to be on the Weather Channel. We’ve seen much worse. The kids are fine. It’s a blessing to find a competent, and inexpensive, babysitter these days. Oh. There’s Morton. I saved him a seat since he was coming from Oak Harbor.” Sally, a divorcée, had two grade-school kids, age seven and nine, boys, she looked after every other school week, and weekend. Her ex, Wally Fullsum, a plumber with a thriving business, who lived in Burlington on the mainland, raised Carter and Miles the other half, half the summer, and they split major holidays—it was a good thing they kept a cordial relationship, and lived close enough to share the boys, the work of raising two good kids in a divorced home environment. Wally had found someone else to love, and Sally had to work hard to negotiate when this other woman entered her planetary system. Never would get easy with Rebecca (“Kids, you can call me Becky!”). Sally watched Carter and Miles, how they navigated behind stoic, saddened features, as they ping-ponged between their mom and dad, and this made Sally try all the harder to make their lives easier. She worked for the local hospital managing the Medical Records System, a tedious job filled with hours of collecting, collating, fixing the ever-more-frequent computer nightmares, and monotonous (lonely) shuffling of patient files. The theater was her creative outlet, and she sought a vibrancy beyond her life, which she categorized as “little.”
Morton waved from the theater’s entryway. His hair was wet from the diminishing rain, the last vestiges of the season’s first wallop.
“I think you’ve grown quite fond of Morton.”
Sally flushed and then let out a laugh.
“I deny everything!”
“He’s a good guy.”
“You two look like you’re up to no good,” said Morton, taking off his raincoat and setting it on the floor next to the cushioned theater seat. He, and everyone, knew that if either of the Belloons witnessed wet jackets draped, muddy shoes on the back of seats, there’d be a heavy scolding.
“Well. Just you wait. Catch a drink after practice? I was just about to ask Roger if he had time to catch up.”
“Sure. Nothing going on in my empty house.”
“Roger, my man, it will be easily forgotten. Caught up on some reading and watched Manchester lose. Sad hours.”
“You should’ve called me. I was free all Sunday. Actually, I should’ve called you both. I have something to tell you. After practice will work.”
“Does anyone want to know how my weekend went?”
“Awww, Sally feels left out. I’ll buy you a gin and tonic,” said Morton.
“And you wonder why I’m always picked to play the sidekick. Once a character actress, you’re always picked to play supporting roles.”
“Everyone. Please. Sally, catch up with Morton and Roger later? I have something new and important to discuss with you,” Martin Belloon held the theater’s occupants in his royal hand. Carole was sitting one row below him. She studied the group, staring with a nervous smile fixed in place.
“As you know. The new season will begin in March. There was talk about doing a short, literary two-person play to open. Begin with something that has weight. But, I’ve decided, in my capacity as President of the Fidalgo Island Theater Ensemble, to scrap that early planning.”
There was a hushed mumbling in the auditorium. Sound carried, even the little whisperings during a live performance, and while the acoustics were wonderful for such a modest stage design, a strict quiet policy was enforced if someone forgot to turn off a cell or any other electronic gadget. Noise disturbance was something Martin Belloon frowned upon the most. No one uttered a word. The silence deepened. Roger caught himself holding his breath. He’s going to do it, he thought. The Play.
“I’ve had the good fortune to discover a play lost to time. Something extraordinary. Must single out Roger here,” and Belloon nodded to him. Everyone in the group focused their attention on Roger for a moment and each person grew curious. No one had singled out Roger before. Sally kicked his foot, gently, mischievously.
“I hold in my hand the only copy of The Queen’s Idle Fancy. It’s history is also lost to time, but after reading it through four times over the weekend, I can say that this play will be FITE’s crowning achievement.”
“I read it as well,” Carole said, interjecting with a glazed look. She didn’t seem as enthusiastic, as if she’d lost energy in the storm.
“And Carole is a tough critic. She more than agrees with me that The Queen’s Idle Fancy should mark its second full production here on Fidalgo Island. Roger? You’ll contact the owner of this playbook as soon as possible. I’d like to meet with him. What was his name?”
“Mr. Waltzcrop. He was going to come back in a few days. Check in to see if you liked it.”
“Like it. He loved it. Wants it to be his Xanadu,” Carole said, adding a campy bit of old theater cattiness to the remark.
From the back row, Kate Denisov remained silent, something not usual for her in any of the bureaucratic meetings. She’d seen the interplay between Martin and his miserable wife, Carole, and could keep her silence no more. She could tell Carole wasn’t a fan of The Play.
“I know all about this play. And, even though I have yet to read it, I’m throwing my crown, so to speak, into the ring right now. I want to play the lead.”
“We’ll discuss casting at the next gathering, the week before Thanksgiving.”
“Make sure we do,” Denisov said.
“You’re not the only one we have our mind on,” Carole said with dripping sweetness. “The main character, Queen Stormag, has a strong centered regality, and mixed in with her almost religious fervor, is an underlying ruthlessness, but there is a seductive softness to her as well, something that, I fear, would be quite difficult for you, Kate. I’m only speaking plainly.”
Kate Denisov sat stunned. The last time anyone had spoken to her with such rudeness, that someone quit the theater.
“Carole, that’s enough. Kate, what my wife means to say is that the role will call for more than just a cursory audition process. All the roles in the play will receive careful consideration. The Director will be chosen in the next few weeks as well. Roger? I’ve decided you will be second director if all of your other duties can be seen to. You’re such an asset as stage manager that I am reticent to fill your large shoes with an unqualified Tom, Dick, or Harry who doesn’t know what they’re doing.”
Roger slid down in his seat.
It’s my play too.
Sally whispered, “We do have a lot to talk about.”
To read Part 8, simply click HERE!
And there you have it . . . the story begins in earnest next week . . . future auditions to contemplate . . . tests to pass . . . ceremonies to learn. I love hearing from readers. What are your thoughts?
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