Stage Craft
(hennhaus: Hard Baud)

(Originally published May 8, 1997)

Stage Craft

“Break a leg!”

I can’t believe how many times I heard that last week. It seemed to have some subliminal yet cumulative effect; it wasn’t ’til Friday evening (the third performance of ‘Nurse Jane‘) that I took a wholly impromptu one-and-one-half gainer from my front porch onto the concrete steps, the walkway, and finally the front lawn. Thus — with insulted foot ligaments and a multi-hued knee — did ‘Bill’ limp visibly through Friday’s performance, then toodle off to the hospital. Happily, I could again put my weight on it by closing night; we had no understudies.

As you may have discerned, this week’s column concerns itself with varied and sundry aspects of the performing arts, with an appropriate emphasis on Canadian sites.

The National Film Board of Canada is a long-time innovator in Canadian performing arts, and a collector of world-wide acclaim and awards. Its web site isn’t half-bad, either. The mandate and history of the NFB is available for browsing, as well as a peek at things to come. Of certain interest is the detailed index of over 9000 NFB productions spanning over a half-century: Find your favourite and see if it’s presently on video.

Not to be missed is Canadian Actors’ Anecdotes, a site from CanAct Enterprises. Over a thousand Canadian actors’ yarns from memory yet green were collected by CanAct for publication with Oxford UP. Some hand-picked selections are posted here. Dave Broadfoot, f’rinstance, relates (with the expected hilarity) an extremely tough crowd in Kamloops, B.C. Mark Breslin (of YukYuks fame) had similar experiences while touring out west with his humour troupe. Perhaps eastern comedy just doesn’t travel well. The backstage and lobby comments will amuse anyone familiar with the work that goes into live theatre, though they may fall flat if the reader hasn’t a passing acquaintance.

More live theatre horror stories are chronicled on GeoCities, an organization that provides free Web pages to the Internet community — I intend to shortly resurrect the Necropolis Bodybag & Smoke Shoppe there under the title ‘hennhaus,’ and GeoCities is certainly worth a look if you want your own niche on the Web on a pauper’s budget. The page ‘Theatrical Calamities’ has been recently constructed, so the pickings are slim, but the stories thus far submitted by actors and stage crewmembers make up for in quality the present dearth of quantity. Theatrical Calamities will cheerfully post your funnies if you’ve ever walked onto or worked behind a stage, be it high school. church, or Broadway: you need only submit it.

Had I gone AWOL (Acting Workshop On Line) prior to auditioning for ‘Nurse Jane Goes to Hawaii,’ I probably would have felt somewhat more confident. My subsequent performance would have benefitted as well. The workshop is free (unlike many others floating in the cyberether), is well-written with wry humour, and covers topics both basic and advanced. The site is also to be commended for its Canadian performing arts links. A lot of effort has gone into writing this material, and it shows — if you’ve any interest in trying your hand at the craft, AWOL’s a great place to be.

I was told — after someone had run to retrieve an Ace bandage wrapping for my foot — that the term ‘break a leg’ was actually a strange concatenation of two phrases: ‘break a record,’ and ‘become a legend.’ I did neither, but I take some comfort in that I didn’t fracture my fibula, trash my tibia, nor fissure my femur.

Sites noted above:

NFB (www.nfb.ca/E/index.html)

Canadian Actors’ Anecdotes (web.idirect.com/~canuck/canact.html)

Theatrical Calamities (www.geocities.com/Broadway/8244/index.html)

AWOL (www.execpc.com/~blankda/acting2.html)

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Copyright © 1997, 2006 by John Rudzinski. Note the date the column was originally published; any links contained therein are probably outdated.
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Related reading:
Hollywood Babylon: The Legendary Underground Classic of Hollywood\'s Darkest and Best Kept Secrets The Hollywood Book of Scandals : The Shocking, Often Disgraceful Deeds and Affairs of Over 100 American Movie and TV Idols How To Be A Working Actor: The Insider\'s Guide to Finding Jobs in Theater, Film, and Television