VenetianBlond

Editor’s Note:  We’ve asked Machelle Allman – well received actress about town – to report from the local actress beat.  We start wtih her first job: 

Stubborn Actress (age 5) Clashes with Director

The Perp

“I got cast in my first lead role at the age of 5.  I was to play the girl who could spin straw into gold.  I was very excited about this, and I took it very seriously.  It seemed so real, somehow.  The smallest boy in town, who jumped around a lot like a little leprechaun in training, was cast as Rumplestiltskin.  A tall, dark-haired boy played the messenger who discovers Rumplestiltskin’s name, and he looked just like someone who could save the day.  If you’re 5, that is.
The reason I remember this so vividly is because there was a controversy–an argument over the creative direction of the show between me and my director.   Once I became Queen, and Rumplestiltskin returned to take my first born child (in exchange for the ability to spin straw into gold) I was supposed to cry.  And I would not cry.  I told the director I would not cry.
What I remember so clearly now, and what I could not articulate then, was that I was used to being told I was a big girl, and I was NOT supposed to cry.  If the director told me to cry, then I was to really do it, but I was in school now—I was too big to cry.  I also remember that on Halloween I was dressed as a witch and I would not run out into the rain in order to catch my bus, because I would melt.  This was just after the huge argument with my mom over the fact that I was not going to take the bus, I was going to ride my broom. Talk about betwixt and between—I was 50% growing up and 50% pure imagination.
So the director was just boggled at my recalcitrance, and I could not explain that I was not a baby any more, and would not cry like one.  My director never had a chance to explain about using imagination and creating feelings for the audience.  We came up with a compromise, in which I slapped my hands over my face and then leaned over in my chair and put my face on my lap.  That was my crying.  I hope the audience got the point.
There are two things I think about now as an actor in relation to that experience.  The first is, you have to be able to talk to your director.  This is not to say that you can direct yourself, but if you’ve got something that’s holding you back you’ve got to be able to articulate that to the director.  Or at least the stage manager who can push it up the line.  The second thing is, I admire that little kid I used to be, who was so willing to suspend disbelief, who thought it was all so terribly important, who really thought that play was supposed to be as really real as it could be.  That’s theater magic right there.  Like spinning straw into gold, or riding your broom to school.”  – Machelle

Photo Courtesy of the Machelle Allman Archives

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3 Responses to “VenetianBlond”

  1. Janie Says:

    Loved this post!

  2. VenetianBlond Says:

    Thanks, Janie! Glad you liked it. I wonder what little Sean Fitzpatrick is up to now? Oh, that’s why I associated him with a Leprechaun!

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