BARE BOSOMS AND THUNDER-STONES

So on the Facebook the other day, American Theatre magazine asked people to post about their favorite theatrical moment ever.  I assume they mean on stage, as opposed to things in life that are theatrical that happened to us.  I mean, we've all had things happen to us that are amazing and weird and when they happen we think "Holy crap!  That should be in a movie!"   Like the time I saw a guy poop his pants on the subway. That was very theatrical.  But I don't think that's what they were going for.   The question immediately made me think of several moments I have either seen or was a part of on stage- and I thought I'd share them with you.

First moment- the day Thunder and Lightning joined the cast of Julius Caesar.   The production was part of the 1998 season of Shakespeare in the Park(ing) Lot.  I was playing Cassius.  We had been getting a lot of attention- including a cover story in the week-end section of the New York Times, with a gigantic picture from the show featuring me,  up front and center.  It was my first photo in a major newspaper, and I was over the moon.  For those unfamiliar with the Parking Lot Shakespeare- it's an annual summer series, presented in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, free to the public- dirty, loud, and quite an experience.  So the show is going along in front of a big crowd.   The sky had been threatening rain all evening.  As the play went along, clouds gathered, turned blue, black, purple. The electricity in the air was making the hair on my arms stand straight up.  The show itself is going like gangbusters.  People are leaning into it- audience and cast alike.  The clouds are getting thicker, which adds to the sense of excitement.  It gets to the scene where my character, Cassius, is convincing Casca to kill Ceasar.  In the script, it's supposed to be storming.  Casca comes upon Cassius walking the streets with his shirt open, challenging the heaven's.  Casca says "Who ever knew the heavens menace so?"  At that point, I would laugh kind of crazily, rip open my shirt, and exclaim, "For my part, I have walk'd about the streets, submitting me unto the perilous night, and, thus unbraced, Casca, as you see, have bared my bosom to the thunder-stone!"  On this night of nights, right after that line, there was a huge CRACK of thunder over head.  I mean shake your bones and make you instinctively cover your head kind of crack.  The audience oohed and awed.   The artistic director, who during performances always stood behind the audience, ready to come out and either postpone or cancel the show in just such a case, edged halfway through the audience.  I looked at Casca hoping he would see in my eyes that we were going to go on with the show,  and continued with the scene, saying "And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open the breast of heaven, I did present myself even in the aim and very flash of it."  At which point, there was huge FLASH of lightening, followed almost instantly with another huge roll of thunder.   Everyone froze- actors on stage and off, audience members, and artistic director- still in the middle of the audience.  Then the rain starts.  Not slowly, but all at once.  A deluge.  The artistic director starts to walk onto the stage.  I keep eye contact with Casca, but raise my hand towards our artistic director, hoping she gets the idea that the show must go on and indeed is going on, and that she needs to get off of the stage.   And the scene continues.  And the rain comes down.  And one by one, audience members pull out their umbrellas, and lean further into the show, and start to applaud- and we kick that scene, and the rest of the performance, in the ass.  There are times in life, few and far between, when you feel like a god, unstoppable and magic and like you are doing exactly the right thing.

More 'best moments ever' to come...



Comments

Songwright said…
I've heard this story before, but it's worth hearing again. Who would believe that such things could happen in real life? I wish I had seen it myself.
Natalie said…
Wow, that is an amazing story! It makes me wish I had been there!
pias said…
Who was your director? Who gave you so much freedom as an actor??

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