15 July 2010

With a Bang

Don't Drink the Water
When I was about sixteen, I was a member of our school theatre group. Not one for the lime light, I worked back stage, creating the sets and helping run the shows. This particular year we were performing Don’t Drink the Water and I was asked to create one of the props. The stage manager brought in a heavy thick dowel rod, and cut it into foot long sections; with these I was to create a bomb. I painted the sticks red and stapled black cord to the ends for wicks. I then bundled seven sticks together and bound them with duct tape and created a box with a clock face as a timer. On reflection it didn’t need a timer, but at sixteen I didn’t know much about bombs. Everything I knew I’d learned from the Road Runner and Wiley Coyote.
In the play, the character is supposed to throw the bomb out the window where it will then explode. During rehearsals it’s immediately apparent that we have a problem with our bomb. They can’t throw it through the set window as it makes a clatter when it lands on the other side. So in their infinite wisdom the director and stage manager ask someone to stand just off-stage and catch the bomb as it’s thrown.
Now you’ll remember, when we built this prop we made it out of wood. It’s not exactly soft and fluffy. The actor throws the bomb out the window and it flies into the stage girl’s waiting arms...only then to bounce into her face. BANG! For just a moment there is silence, before she cries “My nose! My nose! You broke my fucking nose!”
We continued to use the prop for the rest of the production, but only the lads were allowed to make the catch after that.