The Satisfying Death of the Depleted.

June 18, 2009

Holden_Our_Town

“I am, to say the least, saying the least.”

A sixteen-year-old Chevy Chase crossed his arms and marvelled at the sublety with which his point had been expressed. That particular quip was, he knew, the kind that could circle the circumference of the brain as many as four times, remaining just outside the net cast by the locus of understanding, until finally descending on the cognitive center, barrelling past nerves and synapses until the listener finally realized the multiple levels of meaning to which the statement alluded. He waited now for his drama teacher, Mrs. Denison, to release an appreciative chuckle, the stylistic flourish that completed his dazzling operetta of humor. He was disappointed to find that Mrs. Denison instead frowned out of the side of her mouth, as if his comment didn’t warrant her full displeasure, and replied, “Mr. Chase, I understand that Man in the Auditorium isn’t a large part, but it’s an integral one, as is every part in the play. You must have heard that there are no small roles, only small actors?”

Chevy Chase’s head practically vibrated as he fought the urge to roll his eyes. He sighed as softly as he could. “But Mrs. Denison, if that was true, then people would be winning Oscars for cameos. But that doesn’t happen. People win Oscars, or Tonys, or whatever, for playing The Stage Manager in Our Town, so that’s who I want to be!”

Mrs. Denison unfurled the sleeves of her cotton dress and shook her head. “And what exactly would I say to Eliot Masur, who already has the part?”

Chevy Chase cocked an uncomfortably active eyebrow. “You, Mrs. Denison, are nothing if not diplomatic. The skill of appeasement is indeed your metier. If you have a moment, I’ll explain what metier means…”

“I know what that word means, Mr. Chase. I’m sorry, but I’m not switching parts. Learn from this challenge after rising to it as I know you will. You’re Man in the Auditorium. Work on his backstory. What motivates him? What repels or attracts him? How should his voice sound? How much does he have invested in the question he asks the Stage Manager?”

Chevy Chase ran his fingers through his hair, pausing to ruffle the strands at the back of his head. “Can I give him a German accent?”

Mrs. Denison planted her face in her palm. “Why would he have a German accent?”

“I don’t know. He spent some time in the war?”

“You mean the First World War?”
“Yeah!”

“He picked up a German accent from spending some time in Germany during the war?”

“Well, he was actually a German spy.”

“He was a German spy who came from America, and is still living there?”

“He’s a complex character, caught between two sides he doesn’t really understand.”

“You make him sound quite stupid.”

“Well, that’s negative.”

“Yes, I’d imagine it would be.”

Chevy Chase gave a surprised laugh. “Mrs. Denison, you… never cease to…”

“Go home, Mr. Chase. Give him whatever accent you want, I don’t care. I’ll see you on Thursday.”

Chevy Chase thanked her, then sprinted from the rehearsal hall and down the street. Maybe he’d bring some Peter Lorre inflection into his interpretation? He knew he was Hungarian or something, but it was close enough. He ran the four blocks to his house, confident that he’d just sold himself (one powerful commodity was he!) and that he could do it again, probably for as long as he wanted, until he was finally satisfied with what he’d earned and could die the satisfied death of the depleted.

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