WARNING: If you have not yet seen Roller Derby Saved My Soul, you may not want to read further as this post contains many SPOILERS.
After arriving early enough to catch the smart little Waiting for the Go, my stage manager and I were off to show number two at the Hamilton Fringe Festival.
Having had a good night’s sleep, my energy was high and I was pretty pumped for the show. Things were off to a great start. I always know it’s going to be a good crowd when they recognize the Buffy theme song right off the top. This was no different. They were super present with me and gave me lots to play with.
About a quarter of the way through the show, my character does a little dance around to a song by K-dollar sign-Ha, before putting the prop bag down centre stage to open it and take out the gear. This time during the dance, however, the bag slipped from my hand and fell on the floor. The music is pretty loud at this point so I didn’t think anything of it. After all, the bag only contains my derby gear, a plastic water bottle, my phone, and a glass beer bottle. No big deal.
Moments later, as I’ve now stepped away from the bag, I start to notice a small puddle forming around it.
“Uh oh,” I think. “Stage manager must have not closed one of the bottle properly.”
I tell myself that it’s just a little water and there probably won’t be much more since I’m no longer moving the bag. I continue through with the Roller Derby transformation and figure I’ll tighten the lid on one of the bottles when I get back to the bag. When I go for my first skate around the stage, I notice that the puddle has gotten distinctively bigger…
I now find myself at the bag again and, as I keep talking, I open the side pocket and reach in to subtly screw one of the caps back on.
In a split second, my mind goes through the following thought process:
1) Oh, the caps are still on.
2) Don’t cut your hand on that broken glass.
3) FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK! The beer bottle broke.
And my outside voice says the first thing that comes to mind – absolutely still in character of course – “Oh, something broke.”
I lift up the bag only to hear what to my ears sounds like the thunderous jingling of broken glass, followed by a mini flood onto the stage.
And in another split second my thought-process goes:
2) What the fuck do I do now? I am all alone up here. The stage manager and venue tech can’t help me.
3) This might be dangerous, maybe I should just stop the show.
4) How the hell do I clean this up? I can’t go off-stage to get something. What the fucketyfuckfuckfuck can I use to clean this up?
And so my outside voice simply says: “I should probably clean this up.” And I grab the only thing available to me as I continue on with my description of Roller Derby names – my costume pieces from the first half of the show.
And you know what? It’s fine. It totally works. And when I reach the part where I use the beer bottle, I grab the plastic water bottle (a bottle that is only in my bag because my director is an f’n genius who thought it would be good for me to have just in case I ever choke on a popcorn kernel) instead and tell everyone that the “Roxanne” drinking game is very simple. You just need a “BEER” and the song Roxanne by The Police. The audience laughed and totally went with it. And later, when I grab the bottle of water again, I simply look at the audience and say “WATER”. Again, they went with it.
After the show, my stage manager said it was amazing. She had no idea how I was going to get through that as they were scrambling in the booth to figure out some way to get me paper towels and a new bottle.
This was probably my best show yet.
It was only at this point, as I took my things out of the bag for the venue tech to go throw out the glass that I realized I had forgotten that my iPhone was also in the side pocket with the bottles. Part of me was grateful for the mental block because I might have freaked out on stage if I had seen it then. As it turns out, the phone is just fine.
But this was not to be the end of our adventures tonight! Oh no! That would be too easy. And I’m NancyKenny – Neverdoesthingstheeasyway is my middle name.
Since there were still some small shards of glass stuck in the bag and that all my clothes were now soaking wet, I decided to bring everything home with me to Toronto for some much needed laundry. After a fun interview at the Fringe Club (where the host flattered me by wearing a Green Lantern T-shirt, sadly though, with no vest), we raced to the Go Station for a late night ride home. I put the costume bag in the overhead compartment and proceeded to doze off.
We arrived in Toronto in record time and I decided that I would head over to the Toronto Fringe Tent to say goodbye to some friends. It wasn’t until I reached Honest Ed’s that my hands suddenly felt very empty.
I left the costume bag on the bus. A friend decided to come with me as I raced back to Union Station, pestering me with logic the entire way.
“Oh, your roller skates aren’t in that bag? So, you just need another bag and some pants? Not even pants, just shorts? That’s like half of pants. A stage manager for someone in our venue got hit by a car today and has a broken hip. Relax.”
Excuse me? They are not JUST shorts. It is not JUST a bag. It is a COSTUME! And everyone involved with my show is perfectly FINE! Can you not see that I want to freak out about this? Why must you put EVERYTHING into “perspective”? GAH!
We arrived about a half an hour before the last buses of the night. I approached a group of bus drivers (a gaggle?) and asked them if they knew which one was the Hamilton bus that arrived at midnight. A kind old man spoke up and took me to his bus. I raced to the last compartment at the very back and opened it up to find… nothing. I opened another compartment and another and another. I checked the other side of the bus too. Nothing. The driver asked if someone was sitting behind us and maybe they took it? I almost started panicking again until he realized that this was not the bus I had been on.
Then he did the nicest thing ever: he spent the next five minutes on the radio, calling around to find my bus and driver. He guessed my bag was on its way to Hamilton right now and offered to come in early to work tomorrow afternoon to make sure I got it. My friend immediately developed a man-crush on the nicest bus driver in the world. We waited around with him to get a final confirmation that, yes, my bag was in Hamilton. However, since this driver now had to leave with his own load of passengers, he took my number down and said he’d give it to dispatch and have them call me when it was found. About twenty minutes later, it was.
So thank you, Bus Driver Garry, you totally made my night!
Now to figure out where I will do laundry in Hamilton tomorrow… otherwise the 5 pm crowd is going to get a very squishy show.