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LJI:23 The Fiction of the Fix
“Alright everyone, that’s lunch break.  We went a little long running that scene one more time, so be back at 2:05 please.”  I sat down to continue typing the day’s rehearsal report so far; translating my notes from their scrawled shorthand to complete sentences that other staff members would understand.  As the room began to empty one of the actresses marched to my table.

“Why am I exiting stage left at the end of this scene?” asked Beverly.  “It doesn’t make any sense to leave Sue when we’ve been together the whole song.  We worked out a BFF background for these characters and then we just walk away from each other.  It’s weird.”

‘Your role in this scene is townsperson, best friends aren’t required’ I thought.  But that’s not what I said.

“Actually, that’s on purpose” I replied.  “Rob really wanted to give the impression of a huge and varied town just offstage.  You don’t enter from the same place at the top of the number do you?”  That question was rhetorical, I knew they didn’t.

“No, we don’t.”

“Right, so you are friends who just happened to run into each other in town and you stopped to sing a song together.”  We both grinned at the joyful absurdity of musical theater.  “But you’ve each got your own things to finish, so you go on your separate ways.”

“That makes sense.  We can work out a little hello and goodbye something.  A small something, don’t worry.  And thank you.”  Beverly nodded at me and walked over to the clothes rack to take off her rehearsal skirt before catching up to the rest of the cast.  The room had emptied and the only sound left was my keyboard clicking away.

“Can I interrupt you for a second?” asked Rachel, the stage management intern assigned to the show.

“Sure, what’s up?”  I finished the sentence I was typing and turned to face her.  As interns went she was awesome, both excited to be working on a big production and eager to help and learn.

“What you were just telling Beverly, how did you know that?”

“Oh, I made it up.”

“What?  Why?”

“When an actor asks why they’re moving a certain way on stage they usually don’t want the reason, they want a motivation.”  Rachel looked very confused.

“Look, from a stage management perspective she’s exiting stage left because she has a quick change to be a nun for the next scene and that’s where the dressers are.  From Rob’s perspective she’s exiting stage left because it looks right.  Those are the reasons.  But what she wanted to know is why she was exiting stage left from a character perspective.  So I invented a motivation for her.”

“Will Rob be upset that you did that?”

“I seriously doubt Rob will ever notice.  He’s a director who works in images; he firmly believes that if it looks true it is true.  He doesn’t spend time on individual character beats with the chorus, and on this hurry-up schedule we don’t really have the time.  Beverly’s now happy doing exactly what he wants her to do, so everyone wins.”

“How did you come up with it so quickly?”

“We are in the business of playing make-believe, even us note-takers and organizers get to play sometimes."


A week later it was our last day in the rehearsal hall and we were resetting to run a scene shift, again.  Everyone was tired, cranky, and ready to be onstage.  I heard one of the actors in the wings whisper-bitch, “Why am I carrying a lantern in this scene anyway?”  By the time I put down my rehearsal cube (currently part of a wagon) I realized that Rachel had been standing next to him, and was answering his question, though I couldn’t hear what she was saying.  I caught her eye as she finished talking and raised an eyebrow; she returned a thumbs-up and a small satisfied smile.  We both knew Anthony was carrying the lantern so he could leave it on the pedestal upstage where it would be discovered and used by the leading lady three scenes later, and really, he knew that too.  But Rachel had given him a motivation, not just a reason.  Running the shift again Anthony moved with purpose, holding the lantern high while singing counterpoint to the melody.

We were all playing make-believe together.

***Welcome to another entry for LJ Idol, this week's topic is The Fiction in the Fix.  The interesting and varied character choices that happen just out of focus still fascinate me.***

This was a great interpretation of the prompt, using the fiction as the fix. Excellent.

Thank you, it was the first thing that I thought of, luckily it worked.

This is really well done.

Thank you. And thank you for supplying such a fascinating prompt.

I think that purpose behind the blocking is really important for the act of character building. I believe this to be true for far more than just plays. Many different types of people all have to have a reason to do something even if that reason is utterly fictitious.

A well-articulated design philosophy, and a pleasure to read.

That's true. Typically actors who come up with reasons that are beyond "because the director said so" are the most vivid onstage, and sometimes we all need a little extra oomph to get to work for the day.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment and kind words.

Aw, yay! :) It's nice when the background people have motivation too.

It really is, makes everything hold together just that much better.


Do without doing and everything gets done. It's a foot in both worlds, the practicality of staging the piece and the inventiveness of living the part. Good stuff!

It's a fine line to walk for all actors, be in the moment but also hit your mark so you'll be lit and the audience can see you.


Ahh, the joys of musical theater. I loved this working of the prompt. Great work.

Aww. This was poignant and fun and excellent.

I love how you get at all the meanings behind "what's my motivation?" in this piece. It's a nice peek behind the curtain.

It's fun to notice how from different perspectives why you're doing a thing can vary widely, even if it's the exact same thing. I suppose it's true all over, but theater is a nice microcosm of that.
Thanks for reading!

I really liked this piece! If only it were that easy to convince my characters of their motivations. XD

Wouldn't that be nice, luckily most of the actors I worked with were just pleased that someone was answering them so they rarely argued back.

Thanks for stopping by!

This was an intriguing glimpse into the world of actors and their handlers. *grin* Thanks!


Backstage is really where all the cool action happens, I think.

Thanks for the kind words.