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Seeing the wizard behind the curtain

Amaya Eckersley receives finishing touches for her role as a porcelain doll by fellow actress Michaela Renee George backstage during intermission.
Reviewing a play is one thing, but to get a good, up close and personal look at what goes into live theater, one needs to be a part of it.

I have written reviews for many plays produced by Chetco Pelican Players, Brookings Harbor Community Theater and Ellensburg Theater Company. I have photographed dress rehearsals to publicize the productions. Doing all this has given me the curious desire to become a part of a play.

I have been on stage with concert bands and choirs, or speaking, but I’ve never acted — followed a script.

I had thought about auditioning many times. I have unsuccessfully tried out for a part. The thought of auditioning for “Wizard of Oz” also crossed my mind and I did mention it to Director Karen de Lucca on Facebook.

The audition day came and went. One day I couldn’t make it; The next day I decided at the last minute not to show up. I wasn’t truthful with Karen when I told her I couldn’t make it either day. But then she mentioned she didn’t have anyone to play the role of Uncle Henry and asked if I was interested. With reluctance, I said I would give it a shot. I remembered in the story, Henry is at the beginning and at the end and I couldn’t go wrong with the small part.

I showed up for the first day of rehearsal. We sat in the theater and read the script. Karen told me she also wanted me to play Mayor Munchkin, an Oz citizen and a winkie guard. That’s when I knew I was getting in deep.

Starting with the third rehearsal, all the actors got up on stage. We got to read from the script, but we had to imagine our entrances and exits, our props, and how the set would look.

For the next three weeks, we were only making it through one act in a two-hour rehearsal. Even with a script in my hand, I was messing up big time. On the bright side, I felt like I was on par with everyone else.

As I memorized lines, I slowly developed my characters. I began to think of what their personalities would be like. I was proud of myself for knowing my lines. When we first went off script, I seldom had to ask for help. Except one problem — I didn’t always know where I was supposed to say my lines when trying to follow someone who was messing up theirs.

Then a seasoned actor told me, “You don’t just memorize your lines. You memorize the script.”

I took that to heart, and I not only learned my lines and the lines of the character before me, I learned how it was suppose to all go together. Learning to keep the story going even when someone else messes up is an art. Not only did it help me, it helped them get back on track.

Mayor Munchkin was probably the most difficult to learn because the dialogue follows the beat of the music. Another actor had to give me a visual cue on when to come in. Eventually, I did learn where to come in by following the music, but I thought the visual cue was a nice touch, and I played along with it. 

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