Home > Cuisine by Brian Schropp > Notes from the Stage Floor Part II

Notes from the Stage Floor Part II

September 2, 2015 Leave a comment Go to comments
By Brian Schropp

By Brian Schropp

BRIAN SCHROPP ON CUISINE

The opening weekend for my reworked stage play ‘Eggs And Bacon On The Prairie’ went fairly well with most of the showtimes selling at least three or four of the really good fluffy seats. Unfortunately, the Chairman of the Pondicherry Performance Center didn’t think it would be enough to help save ‘this goddamn wreck of a sinking ship’. In my heart I wanted to try and do my best to save the flailing center; the vending machines were quite special here and I doubt I would find their quality anywhere else.

“The script needs to be worked on even more,” he suggested. “You can’t have that same debacle next weekend or else you’re really up shit creek. The positive feedback we’re getting from the folks who happen to wander in here and we somehow convince to buy a ticket comes down to two main points- the breakfast sandwiches and the spanking. You need to keep those in and keep them strong. I want the audience’s mouths to be watering with the thought of breakfast sandwiches and the feeling in their own butts sore. Also, for me personally, could you keep in those darn rascally dream creatures? They are so delightful!!” He said the last part in a high pitch creepy sort of way which made me uncomfortable down to my soul.

​Lizzie Starlight, did not share my vision.

​Lizzie Starlight

So it turned into another long night for myself and my co-creator Lizzie Starlight trying to make a new story work. We both knew we had the fundamentals of a tale that needed to be told– the trick was finding how to make the audience not only ‘get it’ but also to ‘FEEL IT.’ By the early hours of the morning in the haze of cigarette smoke from Lizzie and the piled up pork rind bags from me, we had the new play down. The main character of Zachariah was eliminated completely and replaced with a half-man half- buffalo character named ‘Ektar’ (human name) or ‘Running Cheese’ (his buffalo name). His story was one of a outcast from two different worlds (the human and the buffalo) that fought against each other. He wanted to bring peace to these warring factions by way of these marvelous food creations his ‘dream spirits’ would bring him. I was really happy with the dream sequences– they really showed the basics for making a good breakfast sandwich, almost like a cooking show. Two songs in particular- ‘B.E.C.TB Find Out What It Means To Me’ and ‘The Wild Buffalo Wings Song’ were both included and ALL the lyrics were written by me. B.E.C.TB of course stands for the standard bacon, egg, cheese, tender biscuit ratio used when critically looking at any breakfast sandwich. The buffalo wings song is at the beginning of the play and is more of a dark piece which tells of humans killing a buffalo to make the wings. I feel this somber number really helps highlight the war between the two.

The actor playing 'Ektar' (Running Cheese)

The actor playing ‘Ektar’ (Running Cheese)

So, with very little sleep to be had the next day was another long affair, new sets needed to be made and a quick casting call went out to find our new lead. Lizzie put herself in charge of getting the right actor for this critical part by putting all the young aspiring community stage actors through some tough spots. I put myself in charge of finding the vending machine company’s number to try and see if they could put some type of strawberry milk option replacing the diet cola that no one seemed to buy.

It seemed almost in a blink of an eye that the play in its new form was coming together. I give full credit to Lizzie Starlight and her directional talents. By mid- week the actor who was playing ‘Ektar’ was shining and inspiring the other actors either playing human or buffalo to get into their parts. Songs with newly-added dance routines were being learned under new, somewhat crudely built sets. I was sitting back in the second row of fluffy seats sipping on a strawberry milk wondering how anything could go wrong now.

Of course once that thought is put into the universe it has no choice but to come true.

“Bri, Bri? Where the hell are ya’?”

I recognized the voice of Scott, my manger at the Pizza-A-Round, immediately. Feeling like I was somehow slacking off on a shift, I dropped my strawberry milk over my shirt before stumbling down the theater seating trying to get out as quick as possible.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

Picture of my manager Scott relaxing at home.

“Christ Bri, what the fuck? You keeping calling out of work for this shit?” I was doing my best to straddle both my work on the play and my pizza job, trying to keep both sides happy. But I knew with the troubles here that the scales had tipped dramatically to one side. I also knew Scott wouldn’t understand anything about this and could turn the situation into total chaos. I tried my best to gently nudge him outside but he was in full ‘Scott Mode’ He wanted to make the production pay for taking such a valuable employee away. He moved around the set taking swigs from his flask pushing down stagehands and threatening to urinate on a few of the set pieces. At one point he even grabbed ‘Ektar’ and started to make fun of him– reducing the poor young stage actor to tears.

At this point Lizzie Starlight came back in (she was taking a small break to ‘re-fro’ her hair) and that was when the shit really hit the fan. Like two bulls they clashed in the center of the stage with all the actors and stagehands running for cover. Foreheads touching each other, yelling at the top of their lungs– I couldn’t let this go on for much longer, not only did I fear Scott brandishing some sort of firearm, I also knew Lizzie was a tough cookie who might swing a punch.

I somehow got Scott to calm down and with the promise of some pork rinds got him to sit down in a fluffy seat. I asked him to watch a run through of the play, keeping an open mind. If he didn’t like what he saw then he could destroy whatever he wanted to on the stage. This was also a good practice for the cast– putting their necks on the line with their performance. Much to my surprise I found that once settled and with the lights turned down, Scott really got into it!! The buffalo wings song hooked him right away, leading into the violence between the humans and the buffaloes. What astonished me even more were the gushes and chuckles with Ektar’s interactions with the dream creatures. I’m not sure that the entire the play moved him so much (I heard Scott snoring from time to time) but there were no aggressive movements so that was a good sign.

When the play ended and the lights came back on, Scott slowly got up from his seat. A glazed, almost child-like look was in his eyes. He slowly wandered up on stage and gently took the startled Lizzie by the shoulders.

“Your vision, it’s–so–so–wonderful!”

Then to everyone’s delight/horror Scott and Lizzie started to kiss passionately. We thought it would be over in a few minutes but those minutes turned almost into a full hour. Things got even more awkward when they went behind the sets to really get it on. There was no holding back their primal screaming and thrusting which echoed in the theater. A few of the stagehands started vomiting, I went off for more strawberry milk.

The floating baby pizza slice at the end

The floating baby pizza slice at the end

You would think Scott accepting the play (and Lizzie) would be a good thing, well dear readers it turned out to be the exact opposite. The two became inseparable not only getting it on loudly whenever they could but with Scott ultimately adding his ‘vision’ for the play. The two quickly started to rework the script adding in scenes where ‘Ektar’ goes to a pizza place in the future (our time) and meets a studly manager who bestows his wisdom and knowledge of the pizza trade. A long list of pizza items are added to the final feast which brings the groups together and cuts back heavily on the breakfast sandwiches. Also a lot of the human spanking needed to be cut to save on time. Who wants to see just a spanking or two? And to top it all off there is now this weird trippy ending (with a full laser show) where a baby pizza slice comes floating out and rambles to the paying audience how the universe is just a giant metaphysical pizza or something along those lines.

I try to remain optimistic that the changes in the play are for the good. Maybe folks who have a stronger passion for modern day pizza dream sequences can get something out of it. I have decided to keep my name in it since a few of my ideas are still in there. The renamed play ‘Ektar- Pizza Champion’ will be showing at the Pondicherry Performance Center Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30, Saturday afternoon at 3PM, and Sunday evening at 5PM. Fluffy and rusted gym seats still the same price as last weekend. Until next time, please keep your mind and mouth open to new ideas. Happy Eating!!-Bri

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