We almost finished The Monsters are Due on Maple Street today. Obviously, since it’s in teleplay form, we have had people reading parts. I get to read the longer stage directions and be Rod Serling, all deep and gravelly. (You wouldn’t believe how many people have told me my voice sounds like David Frost. I figure that’s close enough.) And I’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys how the whole reading parts thing goes. But I will anyway.
1. As soon as I say, “It’s a pla–” the hands go up volunteering for parts they can’t handle.
2. There’s always a bunch of boys who want to volunteer for the women’s parts. Then they they can’t cope if they have to call another character “Honey,” or they try to talk in a high voice, and end up giggling and stumbling so much I have to relieve them of their duties.
3. Girls do fine with men’s parts.
4. There are never enough good readers to go around. And most of them are girls.
5. When I say, “I need a good reader for this one, because he has a lot of lines, and is important to the story,” I get even more hands up from people who stumble through reading their names.
6. The worst readers insist they can handle the most difficult parts.
7. At least half read some stage directions as part of their lines. (“Steve points his finger. You’re all set set point some kind of finger at a neighbor. He turns to the crowd…”)
8. Three quarters of them get lost and have to be prompted at least twice. (“Where’s my Charlie?”) Half the time it happens because they are paging forward, looking for how many lines they have.
9. What is it with the southern accents? Every boy who wants to “act” suddenly starts talking with a southern accent. A really bad one. The only thing worse is when they bust out the British accent.
10. Speaking of acting… There’s a great, cheesy, 80’s movie called Strange Brew, which featured the slightly stoopid McKenzie Brothers (of SCTV “fame” eh). There’s a great scene where Bob and Doug are making a sci-fi movie (with a plot ripped off from The Omega Man, starring a young, studly Charlton Heston), and at one point the one brother operating the camera whispers to the other, “Psssst. Act!.”
Oh, the acting. Pauses in all the wrong places. Emphases in random places. They sound like Charlie in “Flowers for Algernon” when he discovers punctuation: “Wait! Mr? Brand, please don’t GO downTOWN……….I DON”T think? they WANT US! to: leave here?!”
Psssst. Stop acting!