It was the first day of rehearsal for students at Hanover University. The audience sat facing the stage, awaiting a sprightly welcoming speech from their teacher-director. The building greeted them all back warmly, smugly exhibiting its spectacular sculpt of spherical architecture. Boastfully putting on display the striking crimson of its curtains, and the mezzanine adorned with metal ramps that gleamed golden in the hue of the low lights cast over the regal theater.
Everyone had gotten the role (lead or otherwise too minuscule to mention) that they’d expected. Every techie, every dancer, every backstage manager, had been the one from last season’s student-run musical. Nothing new there.
And when I had politely interrupted the director to announce a remonstration of mine concerning the nature of the chosen musical, there was a collective groan from the drama students.
Like I said…nothing new.
“Yes, April?” said the club counselor, who at the beginning of the year insisted we call her Ally. She was short, blonde and could easily blend in with the rest of us if she ever wanted to impersonate someone. She loved to wear uggs year-round and her two favorite acts were clueless innocence, and the indulgent and ‘totally hip’ teacher. She was, naturally, a favorite amongst them. I, on the other hand, still wasn’t sure I was comfortable being under the authority of someone with the attention span of a gnat.
“Well, I couldn’t help but notice that this play has one lead role. A male,” I began. Clipboard and pen in hand, I and two other co-directors stood up on stage alongside Ally, the first to greet the cast crew. We were the coordinators and backbone of this season’s spring musical, since our appointed counselor hardly deserved that title. I was glad the seats had already been filled several rows thus far. It gave me momentum to know that I at least had most people’s attention, despite the initial feedback.
“Is that a problem?”
Not wanting to come on too strong or--quite simply--rude, I shook my head, “Not a problem just…typical.”
Another collective groan.
“Personally, I think it would be nice if we had a lead without facial hair for once,” I continued on, “I did read Roses of the Sun, and considering it’s a romance, the heroine is shockingly insignificant.” To say she was insignificant would be an overstatement. She was a complete and utter doormat. But since our productions consisted of student-written plays, I hardly ever expected any phenomenal works of art. Clearly our range of artistic ability did not stretch far—as the most creative story one of us could come up with was a romantic comedy involving an all-too original love triangle between a bunch of baroque characters. It was a painful reminder to know that I myself was contributing to this “musical”. They could at least have decency to adhere to some reasonable amends. And mine were reasonable.
“It’s really not that big a deal. Trust me. I know what I’m doing,” said Amanda, a senior and co-director who was convinced she knew everything because her rich daddy always got her small jobs on Broadway productions.
In one of the most remote areas of Long Island, New York, each is going to admirable extremes to outdo all others. Action is dictated by a self-interest so common it’s nearly indistinguishable in such a mix of status-seeking students with superiority complexes of all kinds. Hanover, most recognized as an exceptionally pastoral, ornate university harbors a universal egoism so very deeply embedded in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants.
“Bet you didn’t know we hadn’t had a female lead since the late nineteen-nineties,” I retorted, almost certain she didn’t.
She rolled her eyes
Ally smiled sweetly at me as if I were a child she took great pains tolerating. “I think it has less to do with sex of the roles and more to do with the complexity and depth of main leads. The genders sure don’t have anything to do with a well-developed plot. I’m sure it’s all just a very peculiar coincidence.”
My politeness was starting to become strained. I could feel the disrespect and contempt creeping into my tone and settling in my body language as I crossed my arms and raised my brows. It was just so hard to like her when she was dismissing me so easily. And I never find it hard to like people. Not really.
“These elements I think are very important to a successful production,” she said expertly. So deal with it, were her unspoken words.
“And I think you’ll find I chose the play based on theme and feasibility more than anything. We’ve got dancers, singers, set designers…it is very difficult to find a play that can incorporate everything and keep it at a balance. It wasn’t easy coming to a decision. Now I know you were upset that your play wasn’t chosen, but I’m sure if you just give it a chance--“
“This isn’t about my play not being chosen,” I said tiredly. Something in her manner made me think she had been waiting for a chance to say that. “And I wasn’t upset.”
At that there was a soft snicker from way in the back.
“You are clearly delusional on both accounts,” was Leo Zachary’s remark. I gritted my teeth. God, I couldn’t stand him. I couldn’t stand actors in general…but I really couldn’t stand him. He was tall, lean and had black hair that fell into his eyes which…surprisingly, gave a sort of lax look to him. But he was anything but. He was sort of an ass. A rich, arrogant and spiteful ass. And he made sure everyone knew. He was so conceited and bigoted he could easily drown in his own narcissism.
I think I’d like that.
“No need for any of that today. We have a lot of work to do,” Ally cut in, clapping her hands together as if to get our attention. But I barely noticed her weak attempt at trying the diffuse the tension. No way was he getting in the last word.
“I don’t remember ever asking you for input,” I said, quickly dismissing him myself. No need to give him what he wanted. Which would be, and always will be, attention. I turned to my clipboard and scanned the names with my pen to begin marking down those who were absent.
But either Leo didn’t care, or he just really liked the sound of his own voice. Probably both.
“Now I could be mistaken,” his voice was soft in a way that made me want to shudder, and pitched slightly higher than the average male, but it was thick with malice. “but--God, who am I kidding? I’m absolutely positive…that none of us want to be bored to death by your incessant, and quite frankly, annoying complaints on behalf of an utterly irrelevant subject. And since I’m too young to die…would you just kindly…shut up?”
I looked up from my list and crossed my arms, glaring.
There were numerous sniggers amongst the students. I was, admittedly, slightly embarrassed. Why that idiot generally got so much support from a relatively intelligent and decent group of college students I’ll never know. Did they not see how much of a waste of air he was? My brain scrambled for a smart and equally sassy retort as I pinned him with my most irritated glare, searching for his smirking face in the darkness of the seating area out in front of me. He was sitting with all of the other actors and actresses of the show as far as I could see. An entire row of insurmountable egos.
I narrowed my eyes. “Last time I checked, I didn’t answer to you. Might come as a shock to you, but my opinion is just as important as anybody else’s. And what do you know about being relevant anway? You’re not nearly as significant as you pretend to be. Trust me on that.” I said, surprised by my own savageness.
He yawned. “Look, I’d really love to talk to you all day, Apple--”
Another round snickers. The clipboard felt as if it would snap under my grip. That--that--
“…but I uh…don’t want to. Maybe if you found some talent one day…”
Ally was sighing impatiently, now thoroughly aggravated at the lack of productivity the first day on the job. “Seven weeks, people!” she bellowed until the laughter died down.
Now so humiliated and irritated that I could only mumble an intelligible retort under my breath, I angrily shook my head and began calling out names.