It was dead dark on campus by the time rehearsal was scheduled to start. I walked by Templeman in my p-coat, a couple bottles of water and my libretto in my bag. Around me, undergrads stumbled around, drunk already though it was barely half-past five. Garbled Essex accents bounced off walls, high-pitched, scathing laughter cut through the air—and that was coming from a group of “lads.”
I sighed, thinking of the frat boys back in Knoxville and remembered that every country has their obnoxious idiots. Moving on.
There are a couple of buildings on campus that are, essentially, mazes. The rumor is that they were designed to be mirror images of each other, and each was designed by an architect who made his living designing prisons for the government. Further, goes the campus legend, the guy, after designing the two colleges, killed himself. I don’t know why, and the tale doesn’t say why. It kind of reminds me of the story about the guy who designed the cover for In The Court of The Crimson King killing himself after creating it. Anyway, the rehearsals were set to be in one of these buildings—Rutherford. I’d been in there to go to the karaoke parties, but then, that destination was clearly marked.
So, in the face of confusion brought on by a complete lack of understanding of the design of a building, I did what I normally did in these situations: I wandered. I knew the room was going to be in a courtyard, so I walked towards what I figured would be the middle of the place and hoped that I’d be correct.
Eventually, I came to a courtyard. In the middle was a large group of smokers. I imagine that, seen from above, this gathering would have resembled a big red target. I walked around the perimeter, looking into each classroom on the courtyard level to see if any of them contained actor types. When I reached the room that was directly to the left of the entrance, I saw a couple people sitting against the wall, smoking. They were chatting about rehearsals for another play.
“Fiddler?” I asked.
“Fuck you,” said the guy. He was lanky, pale, had glasses. This, I’d learn was Simon. “I’m not a kiddy fiddler you—oh, the play. Yeah, we’re here for that. You?”
“I’m not,” said the girl. I never actually learned her name, despite seeing her several times at karaoke and despite the fact that she knew mine and seemed to know a disturbing amount about me. “I just walked Simon over here.”
“Oh.” I said, nodding. “Okay.”
“I gotta go.” She left.
“So who’re you?”
“I’m The Narrator. I’m going to be playing Tevye.”
Simon gave me an appraising look. It hit me that he was one of the guys who tried out for Tevye. And, if memory served, he’d been the one who’d played the role as part of a traveling troupe of actors who performed in places from Germany to Russia. “So you are,” he said.
“Well,” I offered. I looked at my watch. “I guess we should get in there?”
He nodded and we walked in the door.
People slowly trickled in, culminating with Laura’s retinue of Lucie and the Wookie named Kane. A visible shift occurred in her demeanor. She came in laughing at some joke and then turned into a cold, soulless human being, shouting at everyone to shut up and get ready to get down to the serious business of acting. I was scared shitless, but everyone else seemed to be used to this from working with her in one of the showcases in the fall.
This would be my motivation to perform throughout the time I spent in the cast: Pure, unadulterated fear of enraging someone shorter and lighter than me. Of course, that wasn’t exactly different than how I usually worked with other people. In other words, I’m scared of everyone.
Anyway, the rehearsal went on until about half past nine and involved a lot of me shouting at people when I wasn’t supposed to (my method was to base my interpretation of the character loosely on my father, who used to be quite mad), twitching at people who—clearly—hadn’t taken this as seriously as I had and not learned their lines, and sweating.
By the time the rehearsal ended and we’d made it through two scenes, it was half-past nine. I called Giannis as I walked out of Rutherford. Megadeth played over the phone until he answered and then: “Hello?”
“Hey man, it’s The Narrator.”
“Oh, hey man. How are you?”
“Fuckin tired. Drink?”
A long and exasperated sigh came from his end of the phone. “I cannot. I have work to do.”
“What? It’s the first day of the term.”
“Yes, I know, and I have three projects to work on, I must read four articles and write about them, and then rework some of my project from last term.” He sighed. “I hate it.”
“Man,” I said, “you should have gone into liberal arts. You know how much work I have to do?”
“Fuckin nothin, man. I have so much time, I’m the lead in an amateur production of Fiddler on the Fuckin Roof. I got like, two papers for the entire term and they’re both due in April.”
“I hate you.”
“Dude, that’s not the worst of it. Every assignment I have between now and then is optional.”
This time, Giannis hung up.