Monday, November 23, 2009

Another One for the Stage Mother Books

In her travels and travails as a Stage Mother, the Matron has seen some sorry sights indeed. Now, just to bust those stereotypes, the Matron has also discovered that 99% of these Theater Hounds -- the young ones wedded to the stage-- are completely self-driven. As she's said before, you cannot WILL a child to radiate joy onstage 74 shows in a row.

But there's always that odd one percent and the Matron stumbled across just that today during a commercial audition.

These auditions follow a tight pattern. This is not a Secret Coded Pattern but something a normal human being picks up after, oh, one audition. Sort of like behavior for the dentist's or doctor's office, where you don't parade around in your panties. On auditions, you are in a waiting room with adult actors, child actors and their attending parents. You whisper because there is filming going on in an immediate room and it is POLITE to be quiet. (Did you hear that, Typhoon Mama? more on her coming) With the exception of the child actors, the other people in the room are professionals working locally in theater and film; many have supporting day jobs, as well. These people are colleagues in an industry and occasionally chat, as colleagues are wont to do. Sometimes the professional child converses as well. But mostly there is reading and the cornered adult whispered exchange about jobs or who just got divorced or what show is in the makings.

So this pattern was being adhered to today when Scarlett and the Matron arrived. As predictable as Minnesota snow in November, the auditions were running late -- this time as much as 40 minutes. Hooray! The Matron is devouring The White Tiger and was more than happy to wait, as was Scarlett who is on her third reading of The Lightning Thief series. (Dear Lord, to make that much money!) Everyone else in the room was in focused isolation on laptops and behind books; one pair was in the corner, updating lives and sharing pictures of children.

In walks . . . how shall she frame them? The Clampetts? Okay, that might capture parent's appearance but Jed definitely had more psychological sophistication than these two, combined. It wasn't just that they were dressed poorly and bearing beefy smelling Wendys bags into an office suite defined by citrus clean, sunshine and hip sophistication, but they were instantly, tremendously the Center of Attention. By their own design.

It did not help their situation that the parents were paired like Jack Sprat and his unfortunate wife -- the wife as rotund, loud and testy as the husband was tall, lean, and clearly longing for invisibility.

Still, one can -and should-- forget Appearance. But Behavior? Open game.

The first thing Typhoon Mama did was to gaze at the couch where the Matron, Scarlett and another man were sitting, survey the five inches of seat available on said couch and query:

"Can you guys all squinch over so we can sit and eat?"

Everyone 'squinched' and Typhoon Mama plopped plaid polyester self down next to Scarlett and patted the inch on her other side for her daughter -- a striking, stunning human of such beauty that the Matron nearly fell over. And? This 11 or 12 year old looked like she wanted to die. The Matron soon saw why. It wasn't the unfortunate decision to chow down on aromatic fast food while waiting for the audition, the bad clothes or generally scraggy appearance. Or that she spread food out on the pristine, magazine-fueled coffee table and LAID IN. It was this.

Typhoon Mama: "Dan! Dan! God dang it! Get over here! I know there's no place to sit but get over here. Give me them forms! You are SUCH an idiot."

Forms, gotten. Dan retreated to his corner again. Idiot, after all.

Typhoon Mama to daughter: "Baby, do you know how much you weigh? NO! I cannot believe that you don't know your own weight. Good God next thing you know you won't know your phone number. Dan! Dan! GET OVER HERE! Do you know how much Baby weighs? Of course not, you wouldn't know your own mother is I didn't point her out. Jeez, you two. HEY YOU!"

The 'Hey You" is Scarlett, who looks frightened for her life, probably because she will soon be told how useless she is and her older brother is nowhere in the room to do the deed.

Scarlett: "Yes?"

T.M: "How much do you weigh? Stand up a minute."

Scarlett stands up. The Matron pretends to be reading.

Scarlett: "Seventy pounds."

TM: "Turn around."

Scarlett spins.

T.Mama: "Okay, that's what we put seventy pounds. You can sit down now."

Scarlett sits. Squinches visibly closer to her Mama and SERIOUSLY puts her nose in her book.

T. Mama: "Dan! DAAN!! Why are you standing so far away! I mean, we need to know conflicts for January? What about that show Baby is in? Do you know when it rehearses? We need to know if Baby is available for the commercial shoot."

Dan: "Forget it. Who cares. This is a goddamn lottery. She's never going to be in a commercial anyway. Might as well buy that lottery ticket. Crazy business. Doesn't matter one whit what you write because she is never going to be in a commercial anyway."

All the working professionals who are routinely in commercials and know it is NOT a big deal whatsoever, are seriously, studiously not looking in this couple's direction, as the pair engage in a spirited debate about their daughter's ability to be in a commercial and said daughter's various shortcomings ("Well, she has YOUR nose") -- while that daughter dies a thousand visible deaths at their sides.

Typhoon Mama: "Hannah? (okay Baby actually has a name) Do you know your conflicts for the play? If you're in the commercial they want to know your conflicts. You're in that play in December. You're just one kid in the show so being absent shouldn't matter."

Hannah: "Mom, I'm two people in the show. I need to be there for two parts. I don't have my schedule yet."

TM: "You're one kid. Who cares if you're two people. Don't be stupid. One kid."

Hannah: "But I'm TWO characters which means more time. Two."

TM: "You're one kid. The most BIT player possible. Good grief. I drive you all the way here for all this hassle? Who cares what conflicts you have. You're never getting a commercial. Why am I wasting my time? This is MONEY not like the show. GOD. You are SO STUPID."

Hannah wilted. The future fell across her face and it was - hopeless.

The Matron wanted to: A) Grab this mother by the throat and shake her till the Wendy's burst her esophagus and B) Instill hope in this beautiful child: You can make your own destiny. You can escape! You are the next generation, the future. The beauty and grace within you will serve as your guide.

Instead, she sat glued to her book, praying for this moment to be over.

T.M: "HEY? Anybody here named Weisman? You're auditioning with my daughter as her parents? Stand up and BE SEEN. Yea, you? You're Weisman? You have blue eyes. That works. Heh-heh. You're my kid's new parents. BETTER GET SMARTER."

Weisman? A skinny forty-something man who'd been monitoring the drama from a corner, safe behind a People magazine.

Weisman: "Actually, I think your daughter has outpaced us all. She appears to be a (pause) survivor. I'd be honored to work with her."

And this stranger--this incredible, kind-hearted fatherly sort--stood up, walked to the couch, and put his hands on Hannah's shoulder and kissed the top of her head.

"You are beautiful, smart and kind. Never forget it. You'll go far."

Okay - it took ONE MILLION YEARS of evolution to get the Matron to the point of self-restraint where she didn't knock over Scarlett and land a big juicy wet one on that man's lips. Hero, hero, hero.

Hannah melted.

Dear Hannah. Here's to you, sweetheart. The Matron saw intelligence and discretion on your face. Things will get better.


Bless you.


ree said...

Yes, Blessings to Weisman. No child should have to listen to that.

MJ said...

That poor child. Bless Weisman for being a wise man.

unmitigated me said...

Thank goodness for Weisman. I'm sure Mrs. Clampett derided him all the way home. And Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Magic, in my book.

smalltownme said...

A hero and a gentleman.

Mama Ava said...

What a beautiful gracious way to give that child what she needed to hear. We've all been in the position of desperately wanting to somehow intervene in a bad situation. Thank goodness Weisman did it.

Common Household Mom said...

In perhaps the most crucial performance of his career, Weisman enters fully into his role and gets it exactly right. Bravo, Weisman! I hope that girl can carry his words with her, as a shield against what she hears every day.

Maureen@IslandRoar said...

What a great story.
May she never forget Weisman!

Amy said...

So wonderful. You should have planted a big one. He definitely deserved it. And sidenote- I love love love The Lightning Thief series. Can't wait for the movie.

Wenderina said...

No way! That stuff does not happen in real life! I mean yes the Clampett family happens, but a Weisman? That's like a miracle worthy of a Hallmark special (and as believable)

Minnesota Matron said...

I know! It was an amazing moment. Even more amazing was that he made physical contact like that -- really reinforced the message. I hope he has a daughter. Too much good parenting juju to waste.

Daisy said...

I echo smalltownmom; he is both a hero and a gentleman. Courageous and generous of spirit, he came through when Baby needed someone.

jenn said...

What a saint. Bless him for doing what most of us would only think.

racheld said...

That poor, sad child needed a Hero right then. And I've no doubt that in absence of Weisman, you would have leapt to her aid with a smile and a kind word.

I wonder if she had been one of those tiny prosti-tots shoved onto motel stages in countless pageants, wearing their Baby Slut Starter Kit outfits, learning the booty-shake and hippy-wiggle at two, learning to Strut Their Stuff before they were potty-trained.

And, Heaven Help Them, how will they disperse Their Stuff when they're fifteen?

I hope Baby continues to excel and to prosper amongst her thorns---she seems a rare rose to have risen so far with so much manure clinging to her roots.

another mary said...

Weisman actually could have been the person (or angel) that had the biggest influence in that girl's childhood - let's hope.