April 2008

I made a four year old cry. It was not my intention.

As an actor, it is rare to make the audience "feel" enough to cry.  I forget that occasionally the audience can get so wrapped up in the moment that they believe in the reality of the world onstage. As a young actor it is also rare to get so caught up in the moment that you find yourself weeping onstage for the girl who has just expired because her lungs have filled with a combination of blood and mucus causing pleural failure. In the event of these few and far between occurrences, the more sentimental members of the mature audience may be seen wiping their eyes, sniffing the moisture back into their noses that is the involuntary result of catharsis.
However, our four-year old was not watching La Boheme. The young lady was viewing an Opera Improv show on Wednesday evening. The story was our Fracture Fairy Tale option, where the Big Bad Wolf is placed at the bar for attempted murder and general disquiet in the realm of make-believe. The action began during the overture (Liszt's Totentanz), with the reveal of the Little Pig #3 being pursued by the Big Bad Wolf (yours truly). The porcine would-be victim escapes however (only to return later as the bailiff, "Officer Porker"), leaving the B.B.W. to begin the opera with a bit of improvised recitative.
It went somewhat thus:

"I'm the Big Bad Wolf! Though I've already had two little piggies for breakfast today, that third one will fit nicely in the fridge for a snack later. Too bad he got away! Oh well, that's okay, I like eating little children just as well!"
At this point, I licked my chops, hunkered down, and gazed with gastronomic yearning at the four-year old in question. She quivered, with fear, screamed, and had to be rescued by a young lady I assume to be her mother. The consolation proved effective, as her sobbing subsided, and eventually she returned to her place in the front row.
The remainder of the show went without issue, and our morbid audience voted for a tragic ending, where the B.B.W. is cleared of his charges due to a mistrial (Red Riding Hood was the judge in disguise, seeking revenge for her grandmothers demise).

I made an attempt at reconciliation with my four-year old after the show, but I think she had her doubts about my intent... after all, the villain won, and if a child can believe that a charming young singer could really be a wolf in human clothing, how is it any less satisfying than leaving an audience with damp cheeks for a dead Mimi?

--Sammuel "Wolfman" Hawkins