Wednesday, March 01, 2006

When My Dog Was a Movie Star

Back in the fall semester of 2000, my two roommates and co-dog mommies Jo and Erika took an "Acting for the Cinema" course. In theory, they were supposed to work with film students who would direct them in their personal projects and give them on-camera experience.

Except that *this* class... well, the student directors all seemed to suck, like, a lot. I don't remember too much about it, except that Jo and Erika played waitresses in one project. They were supposed to make up elaborate hors d-ouvers trays as props, but the director kept deleting the footage by accident, losing the tape or getting shitty critiques. By the fifth re-shoot, they were squeezing easy cheese onto cucumber slices and glaring at everything around them in our kitchen, including the toaster, the party trays, the EZ Cheez, and Creepy Carl, the OCD pain-in-the-ass roommate who insisted on scrubbing the outside of the milk gallon before putting it in the fridge while refusing to take the trash out. EVER.


Anyway, Bella the very young, stubborn, un-housebroken puppy appeared in one of the films. Supposedly, she was a natural. The professor for this class was a man named M@lcolm who had a distinguished career as a Shakespearean actor in England before coming to Syracuse to teach. He was your standard-issue middle-aged British man with unruly eyebrows and dry wit. He and his wife taught throughout the academic year and acted in a professional company in the Berkshires during the summer. After a disastrous screening in film class, the only positive thing M@lcolm could say about it (you have to imagine your own deep, James Earl Jones-ish employing a Queen's English accent here) was:

"The *only* good thing about your film.... was... that DOG." (Cue applause for the Bella.)

For some reason, this snippet of information has stayed with me over the years, along with this hilarious impression Jo would do of M@lcolm... She once caught him licking his own hand *with great purpose* during a rehearsal for Henry V when he thought no one was looking.

Now, I know this blog entry is taking you for a ride on Angie's Convulted Memory Train, but I have one more leap to make before I get to my point. I hope you'll stay with me.

In the summer of 200-and-something-or-other (2004, maybe?) Stephen performed with the unpaid acting troupe as "an education artist" in cooperation with the professional company in the Berkshires where M@lcolm traditionally acts in the summer break from S.U. Of course, I went to visit because

I believed! In! His! Dream!
And Maybe Someday! He'd! Get! Cast! In!
the Professional Troupe! And!
We'd Have A Life TOGETHER!!! In the Berkshires!
holla back y'all! Woo!

Ahem. That didn't happen.

But I'm still on the mailing list for this theater company, which... when I got their Spring Preview Mailing a year ago... made me feel like I got kicked in the stomach. I shoved it under a couch cushion and sat on it for a while, then I threw it away, as M@lcolm would say, *with great purpose* (slamming the lid of my kitchen trashcan, which promptly bounced off and made a mess).

Oh! But see how I have grown! When the spring mailer came today, I thought, "You know, why don't I look and see if @nderson (Stephen's best friend from the education tour) is finally getting main stage roles after so many years of due diligence? That would be so nice for him."

@nderson is not in any of the promo photos, but M@lcolm is.

Can't you see this man praising my dog's acting skills? and (completely separate from that incident) licking his own hand when he thinks no one is looking? I think this moment of hilarity alone makes my student loan payment this month feel incredibly worthwhile.

Also, I would really like it if Stephen achieved that dream, if that still IS his dream. :)

1 comment:

Cindy W said...

Wow. He's got women's bosoms for ear muffs. Impressive.

I can totally see that type of guy licking his own hand. And it creeps me out. Thanks for sharing that story. :-)