Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Alan Alda Nightmare

I had the actor’s nightmare for the first time in my life.

For the uninitiated, the actor’s nightmare is an anxiety dream in which you find yourself in a performance situation for which you are horribly unprepared. Common scenarios include being on stage and not knowing your lines or readying for your entrance and not being able to find your costume. For actors, being caught unprepared for a performance without any help in sight is a terrifying prospect. Hence – nightmare.

My anxiety nightmares have never taken place on stage. They usually involve realizing I haven’t packed for a flight that leaves in an hour or going into a meeting without the Powerpoint presentation I was supposed to make. Nerd anxiety.

Until last night.

I dreamt FX un-cancelled The Riches (hooray!) and I was back to reprise my role as Kimmie. It was my first day on set, but I still hadn’t gotten the script for my scene. I asked and asked and asked, but kept being told it was coming soon. Finally it arrived, but instead of a script, it turned out to be an issue of Entertainment Weekly with my lines printed in a sidebar column.

WTF? I stared at the super small print, trying to cram the lines into my brain. The director called action on rehearsal. I began my scene opposite Alan Alda (I don’t know), struggling to decipher the tiny words on the page. We didn’t even finish the rehearsal before the director shouted, “Let’s shoot it!”

No, no, no. As I returned to my starting mark, the 1st AD came over to remind me about page 2 of my scene, which was located about 15 pages later in my magazine script. Great. I grabbed a stack of prop file folders and put the script on top so I could glance at the lines during the scene. I’d figure out the page turn later.

We started shooting and everything was fine until Alan Alda caught me looking at my magazine script and went apeshit.

“You don’t know your lines?” he berated. “And you call yourself a professional?” Throwing up his hands, he shouted at the crew, “What kind of amateur circus hour is this?!” Now everyone was staring daggers into me as I stood there, paralyzed, getting yelled at by Alan Alda until I finally woke up in a cold sweat.

Now that’s a nightmare.

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