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Columns

December 8, 2013

KNISELY: You can just call me Judy

[Enter stage left, car-rying clear glass containing blue beverage, and place drink on table.]

“Here you go.”

[Exit stage right.]

I don’t remember the name of the play or my character’s name in the junior high production, but I do remember I was dressed like a cowgirl, complete with a fringe skirt. My whole part was to walk on stage and deliver a drink order to a roughneck cowboy in a saloon.

Well, it was most of my job anyway. My character came into play later in the act. She was supposed to anyway. Too bad my nerves got in the way.

Here’s what happened.

Turns out that blue liquid I had delivered to the thirsty cowboy was poison. I don’t think my character knew it was poison; my part was way too small for that to be the case. Plus, she was supposed to scream in surprise when he fell over dead in the saloon. Nearly every actor was to be on stage at the time. It was a big moment.

“High-pitched scream.” That’s what the script called for.

That’s not what happened.

In rehearsals, I had trouble with that scream. It seems “here you go” was all I was cut out for. Every rehearsal, when it came time for my scream, it sounded more like a whimper than the time before. The director, the school’s math teacher, reassured me it’s OK and to try again next time.

I was in the business of hiding at school, not screaming loudly in front of everybody, especially the cute boy I liked who had a starring role. But every time I tried again and every time it seemed just a little harder. As opening night drew closer, I was able to knock it up a few octaves in the comfort of my home. I thought I was ready to go.

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