SHY


“Shy, I confess it, I’m shy…” that song from Once Upon a Mattress seemed to have been written about me. But that was before I began writing and a play I wrote was chosen by Theatre Guinevere, in New York City, as an entrant in a play contest. We, the authors, would all read our plays in a rehearsal room to a critic who would choose the top three plays. The prize-a staged reading.
I sat in front of an audience consisting of friends, family, budding playwrights and the other competitors. I read the lines; hoping my nerves wouldn’t show. Stage directions were read by a friend and I learned never to have stage directions read at a reading. Find another way. Then miracle of miracles, I was one of the winners.
The next step was finding professional actors-who were willing to work without pay. An ad was place in Backstage, a theatrical newspaper; the evening we held auditions we arrived to find actors had filled the room and lined the staircase.
I was used to auditioning as a singer and an actress; after I became a stage manager, I knew how to call other performers to read for directors, conductors and choreographers. I knew how to cheer for performers and how to console but nothing prepared me for making the hard decisions myself.
We chose the actors we wanted to stay and read for the parts in our plays-typecasting-choosing by age, height, weight, appearance and instinct. I chose three young girls to stay and read for my ingénue. The first was terrible, just plain terrible.
“Thank you,” I said.
She pretended not to hear.
“Thank you,” a bit louder. Would nothing stop this…this creature who was creating havoc with my lines? The lines I had spent hour after hour writing and revising?
I rose from my chair, walked up front and shouted in her ear. “Thank you!” I no longer felt shy. The third actress to read, made me smile, made me laugh and was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
On to the men and here I made a dreadful mistake. The actor I chose looked the part, he read the lines fairly well and he told me he could sing. I hadn’t written a musical but the actor needed to look as if he could dance, have a mediocre voice and hold a tune for a chorus or two. I made the mistake of taking the actor at his word-I should have known better-and after the first rehearsal, despite his plea, had to let him go.
I had never-is the right word fired-anyone before? And it was a part in a staged reading that didn’t pay a cent. I felt guilty. I felt tough. I knew my first duty was to my play. And I knew I would never be shy again.

P.S. I got up the nerve to ask a marvelous actor I had worked with on the road if he would do the reading and he agreed. We won the prize – a small statue called, “The Guinny” the play received several staged readings with other companies but as yet hasn’t been produced.

FOR MORE INFO ABOUT ME, PLEASE LOG ON TO http://www.elisewarner.com MY MYSTERY TITLED SCENE STEALER MAY BE PURCHSED AT www,barnesandnoble.com, wwwamazon.com, http://www.borders.com, http://www.carinapress.com
Carina Press: Your next great read!
and wherever eBooks are sold an audio versiion will be released by http://www.audible.com on October 15

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2 Responses to “SHY”

  1. Nicki Elson Says:

    Oh my goodness, having to watch your work read aloud and pick the actors to do it would be so surreal! And difficult. I had a hard enough time selecting actors for the imaginary movie of my novel. Wish I could’ve seen you shout “Thank you” into the actresses ear. 😉

  2. Elise Warner Says:

    I did find it difficult but not as difficult as working with a director that shuts the author out. So far I enjoy working with an editor much more, maybe because editors are writers too.

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