Every time when a friend asks me about my theater life, I always say the book I would write would be called Lesbian Dancing after the Show.
Always an inside joke for the people who lived through it. My husband. Those cast members. Myself:
Thank you for coming to our show! We are here every Friday and Saturday Night ... and remember, Lesbian Dancing after the show!
Another stereotype checked off for you. Lesbians dance. And they like to be announced at your show just in case the meager audience just happens to contain lesbians, to like lesbians, or never knew that lesbians danced.
Every Friday and Saturday night. Eight weeks. Somewhere in the heart of Seattle in the 90’s. Wander to the stage. And look out into the crowd.
Some guy with four half-drunk drinks on the table, screaming ">gynecology." A broken, skipping Tourette's record. Maybe the people seeing improv shows who so need to say this word are just on a mission. This fellow, though, has now settled in on having someone, anyone, say it besides him. On this stage. Behind him. Screamed later at his home in the hot sticky clutches of coitus.
"COME ON BABY SAY IT SAY IT TO ME. GY-NO-COL-O-GEE!" It's his succubus.
A little old lady front row center. The spot that you can see the clearest from the stage. She knows where it is. Dressed the way you would imagine someone going to see Camelotif it was 1962. She apparently was there for Elaine May and Mike Nichols way before The Birdcage. She regales us with this story while we're trying to get an improv "Location" and adds that one of our members bears a striking resemblance to Benny Hill.
We can only pray for our fourth wall to magically reappear. And the winds to change to a northeasterly direction to alleviate, from this bane of our existence, the smell of corned beef and sour cream Doritos. She has brought her own meal. An actor’s nightmare. She has made us dinner theater.
Every other point of the room? Empty seats in a disco ball like dance hall. I do an improv game in my own mind: Visualize the Audience:
- These chairs contain busloads of nuns on a Nuns' Night Out. The back rows are a group of Rabbis on a Rabbis' Night Out. What they are doing out on Friday night? Who knows? They are being *rebels*, drinking wine and hoping to get some forbidden nun action. A gaggle of nuns. A gaggle of rabbis. My mind has become Borscht Belt with this audience.
- In this chair, there is my mom. Not yet ravaged with Alzheimer’s but still not getting what the hell I’m doing, showing up an hour late, but she laughs anyway. She laughs happy in the fact that I’m doing *something* and at least I’m not the lesbian she thought I was. Don’t worry, Mom. There is Lesbian Dancing after the Show.
- That chair behind the pole? That chair contains someone very special to me. That chair contains my delusional dreams of one day being in New York and doing some fantastic production. Replete with a dressing room that once upon a time did not contain the supplies for the bathroom … and with someone poking their head in like some 1930's Broadway Busby Berkeley movie saying Five minutes to curtain, Ms. Landry. You might be nobody ... but you are going to come back a Staaah.
Putting on the dress that Edith Head designed for Rosemary Clooney in White Christmas. The black one. With the ass jewelry while young boys dance around me to Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me. Young boys dancing around me. Gay men dancing. During the show.
That chair is behind the pole because it does not have a clear view. A clear view of the future.
I walk out to the audience still in the police officer uniform after singing “I Work for LAPD,” the parody song of the cops during the Rodney King Riots. It is the last show of this run. I have said worse. I have heard worse.
Standing in that police costume. Flashback. San Quentin. Drama Therapy seven years prior. Sweaty Correctional Officer. The Guns are here. You can perform now. So wanting to hear him say Five minutes to curtain, Ms.Landry. So wanting the Black Dress with the ass jewelry. Wondering if this was the day the riot would happen and I would be found headfirst in blood in the prison cafeteria. With a commedia half-mask on.
Standing on that stage in the police uniform and the smirk hits my lips like this is the first time I have ever said it. So chirpy. So alive. So damn glad to be here.
"Thank you for coming to our show! This is our last performance ... and remember, Lesbian dancing after the show."
It was a very prolific musician who once screamed: It was long ago and it was far away, and it’s so much better than it is today. And it was Martin Short who once said: You are not an actor until you have done a really bad production of Godspell. I have done that too.
But has Mr. Short been asked to announce lesbian dancing after his improv shows?
Bring it, Mr. Short. Bring it.
Causes Shaun Landry Supports
The Alzheimer's Foundation, NAACP, Breast Cancer Foundation, Gilda's Club.