Part the curtains, reveal the hidden, and unleash the fire
Backstage
of
Fire Wall Theater
CHAPTER
1
Part 1
“Everyone, please settle down. Thank you, sh, quiet down now.” Grace Andrews smiled anxiously, observing her pathetically small crowd of tapping contenders. “I welcome you all here today as the official attendees of today’s audition for the upcoming performance ‘The Death of the Damsel As Fire Rains Down’. In case you did not read the information on Fire Wall’s website, this production regards a young princess known as Carrie, whom is mysteriously murdered by an unknown. The royal advisor, Terrik, decides to take on investigation, only to spark,” Grace smiled slyly at her carefully pre-thought-out pun. “many more royal deaths. Soon, when only he and a maid named Sharla remain, the killer sets the castle ablaze and reveals herself as the actual Princess Carrie. Terrik manages to escape, only to watch his beloved castle burn to the ground with both Sharla and Carrie trapped inside.”
“Excuse me?” A younger Arab man raised his hand. “On the website it labeled this show as a comedy, not a tragedy.”
Grace thought for a minute. “Oh, the writer’s must have meant calamity, not comedy. Those writers, they always have these awful typos. Once, on a show about the joys of being a barber, they mistook the word ‘barber’ for ‘barbarian’. Nobody auditioned for that show except for two older men dressed like pirates. They ended up cancelling the show and received a gazillion angry all year season ticket holder’s flock of insults. Turns out theater junkies are very good at back stabbing and leg jerking and mouth dis-flavoring. We had to take down the phone number just to cease the commotion.” Grace shook her head distastefully. “Back to your comment, um, what’s your name?”
The Arabian man blinked dumbly, stirring up that awkward silence before answering, “Abie.”
“Great. Abby as for your comment, well, those writers meant calamity. Calamity; tragedy, bad fortune, and lack of luck. Cataclysm.”
Abie lowered his hand, and the room slipped back into sedentary quiet.
Grace continued. “Anyways, for this audition, I will ask for all of you to take turns reading lines out of the script. You will all get to try out different characters, whether it be the lead or the magic tree stump, and then you may all return for your homes and eagerly await callbacks, which will most likely be dolled out on Sunday, August 23rd. Everyone understand?” She gazed around the room, receiving no feedback other than the snap of a popped bubble gum bubble from the emo girl in the back. Grace sighed, picking up a stack of script page printouts. “I’ll take that as a yes. Now, will all of you please come on down and sign your name on this clipboard. I’ll read off one by one for your audition. Oh! I might call more than one at a time, so always be paying attention! That’s a crucial part of theater in general. But especially here at Fire Wall. Backstage is always just as busy as main stage.” Grace chuckled, reminding herself of the production of ‘A Christmas Tale’, which turned out to be one of the most stressful plays ever done at Fire Wall. Between the cast of twelve children and only two adults, it was a real life calamity.
Grace moved aside as one by one the crowd of ten people formed a line in front of the small folding table which supported the hot pink clipboard. Abie was first. “There,” he said, setting down the feathery pen to reveal his chicken scrawl of handwriting. “Abie. The ‘e’ is silent, okay? It’s not Abby!” Abie glared at her before returning to his seat.
The rest of the potential cast members cycled through, each adding their name to the list. Sarah, John, Linda, Diana, Kate, Micheal, Brennan, Dee, and Tiffany. Grace admired those names, well, they were rather nice names. No Blackbeard Bruce, or Iam Mean. Not even a Badac Tor! A Badac Tor came once to audition; he wasn’t very kind, and was a rather bad actor. He didn’t last very long.
“Let’s begin, shall we?” Grace announced. “Hm, how about Dee, let’s start with you. How about you read the King. Diana, you read the Queen, Sarah, you read Carrie, and, Linda, you read Carrie’s sister.” Dee, Diana, Sarah, and Linda came down, grabbed a printout of page ten, eleven, and twelve, and took to the stage. After a quick minute of scanning the lines, Diana began.
“Carrie, you must stop, and listen for just one moment! I am very worried about your health, perhaps spiritually! You have been acting so strange lately, and I feel obligated to see that you are well.”
Dee hesitated a moment before reading his line. “Yes Carrie, please, come and relieve your woes that you bear. We love you, sweet. Please.”
“She won’t listen to you, not now, not ever. That girl’s got her mind set on something, and she ain’t never gonna pull out of it!” Linda cried dramatically, stepping in between Dee and Diana. Grace held up her hand to stop the acting.
“Wait, wait, hold up. Linda, what are you doing? Using a double negative and that hill billy lingo isn’t in the script!”
“I know, but I thought it would be appropriate!”
“For a royal princess?”
“Well, yeah.”
“Linda, no. It’s not appropriate. Now please, read directly what’s on the script, or else I’ll have to ask you to sit down and give the opportunity to someone else.” Grace sighed. “Let’s start again, from the top. Diana, read your line.”
“Carrie, you must stop, and listen for just one moment! I am very worried about your health, perhaps spiritually! You have been acting so strange lately, and I feel obligated to see that you are well.”
Dee and Linda read their lines again, Linda correcting her grammar, and Sarah finished off the scene with a defiant shout of refusal. Grace, as well as the small audience, clapped politely. The next ten minutes were spent with the same scene but with various actors, another ten minutes spent on a different scene with many actors, and a final thirty minutes spent on a long, company scene that demanded trial of everyone in the auditions to participate every time the same words were read again and again. Finally, Grace stood up and stretched, ready for a break.
“All of you, fabulous job. We are almost done, with only two more scenes to go, both of which exceedingly important moments in this production. That being said, I will give you all, as well as myself, a relaxing five minute break to calm and collect yourselves, as well as prepare your voices and hearts for the last two scenes. You must stay in the house, which is this main area in theater talk, and you are all prohibited to exit unless you check with me first. However, if you require the assistance of a toilet, feel free to go on out without permission. We got to do what we got to do.” Grace smiled wearily as the attendees remained silent and rather bored with her unnecessary speech. “As for myself, I must go backstage for just a minute to gather up a prop that is mandatory to truly experience the feeling and emotion of these final two scenes. If there are any questions that concern break and my temporary departure please raise your hand now.” Grace’s soundless audience remained closed mouths as Grace awkwardly nodded and then proceeded to exit behind the heavy curtains to the scenic backstage area. Ladders, destroyed props, scraps of cheaply made costumes, set pieces and work tools were scattered around, joining together to make the backstage of Fire Wall Theater a rather ugly sight.
Grace sighed at the mess before ducking under two parallel ladders and stepping over a crushed paper mache horse head. The curtains behind her rustled, startling her, quickening her pace. Grace didn’t look back as she pushed through the heavy door and into the actor’s hallway, which again, was loaded with props and set bits and costumes, with the addition of dusty shelving, upside down coat hooks, and a garbage can overfilled with red blankets. “Curious,” Grace breathed, staring at the dark red blankets. “I’m sure the previous show here had nothing to do with red blankets.” Grace disregarded the thought, figuring the theater’s previous show, ‘Murder Mystery Dinner Party’, directed by somebody named Abby, oh, was it Abby, found something to do with the peculiar red blankets stuffed in the garbage can.
Grace ducked into the mini storage closet that was built into the hallway and grabbed a prop sword and a rope. With her two items, Grace triumphantly made her way back to the house.
“I’m back, with the two props!” Grace announced as everyone settled back down into their seats. “Does anyone need to exit the house right now?” Nobody raised their hand. “Great. Let’s go ahead and get these last two scenes done with. Let’s start with...Brennan. Brennan, you play Terrik, um, Tiffany, you play the maid, John, you play the King, and Diana, let’s have you play Carrie.” There was no response. Grace sighed, setting down the sword and rope. “You all heard me, right?”
“Excuse me miss, they are all in the bathroom.” The emo girl in the back said, raising her hand shyly.
Just then, three perfectly synced screams erupted from the bathroom, filling the house with the sound of pure terror and agony. Grace, as well as everyone else jumped. “Everyone, remain seated!” Grace cried as she bolted up the stairs and out the doors, around the hall and into the bathroom where four battered bodies lay in the shape of a northern star, a thick red substance staining the pale blue linoleum. Four people lay dead before the trembling director, and from that moment on everyone within the Fire Wall Theater were considered suspects of ruthless, cold blooded murder.
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