Atheist At the Pulpit

Vincent TrumanRehearsals for ‘The Woman In Black’ continue at a breakneck pace – four to five rehearsals a week, not counting the hours I read, re-read and act out my scenes on my deck in the middle of the night.  Unfortunately, this has pushed my work on ‘Today Is Stupid’ from the front burner to the back burner, off the stove completely and then back into the cabinet.  However, with respect to TIS, I have gone through all the footage and now just need a simple, stupid day to start in on some cobbling.


Many rehearsals for ‘The Woman In Black’ have taken place in a church.  Until recently, I have been able to count on one hand the times I have feasted my eyes on God’s House, complete with proud pictures of his son – albeit ones in which his son is being tortured.  I’m sure parents of the prisoners at Aru Ghraib have pictures of their kids naked, simulating sex acts and being threatened with a dog inches away from their face.  But this is Christianity, so all I have is the one guy with nails and thorns stuck in him.   Our director works at this particular church, and I can only assume we have rehearsed there because the company is young and is too short on funds to rent a proper place.


Several of these church rehearsals have taken place in the main church bit – you know, the bits with the pews, choir seating, stage and the signs indicating which hymm the patrons (?) are to sing for the next service.  As a heathen atheist, it is somewhat like … well, I can’t think of an analogy, but suffice to say that it’s WEIRD.  Standing on that stage, I am reminded of how theater and religion were once, thousands of years ago, one entity.  It doesn’t make me feel too comfortable being there, mind you, but it gives me a enough solace to do my lines.


However, the oddest moment came when the director brought in a dialect coach to work with my acting partner and me (we play English folks and I play eight others from the same general region, but different).  He was very English himself, and slightly older than me, so we got along very well at the start.  We were able to discuss various accents and cite numerous actors (Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, Terry-Thomas, David Tennant, etc.) as good source material, but I feared that many of the names and works we chatted about were slightly lost on my director and acting partner – not because of any lack in their character, but only in their years on the planet.  I think most of the theater company was born in the year I embarked on my first year of college.


But that was not the oddest moment.  Our dialect fellow, in discussing some Cockney traits, asked a question I have not heard in years: “Have you ever heard Derek and Clive?”  Now, Derek and Clive were actually Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, recording for a lark as two extremely foul-mouthed characters.  And the dialect fellow and I recounted their first sketch together, which was constructed from a single line of Peter’s: “I’ll tell you the worst job I ever ‘ad.  It was removing lobsters from Jayne Mansfield’s bum.  Jayne was a sweet girl, nice, innocent, but it was my job to take these fuckin’ lobsters out of ‘er arsehole.’


And we’re in a church. 


As I said, very odd.


The rest of rehearsals have been going well.  My biggest struggle, aside from being an atheist at a pulpit, is submerging my seventeen years of independent theater against their six months or so.  After all, in this production, I’m only talent.  For anyone who has wished to go back in time, knowing what they know now and applying it to then, I wouldn’t advise it.  For serious.  You get some funny looks. 


Still, I am very pleased to be involved and it is challenging me in ways I haven’t been challenged in years.  That’s actually pretty exciting.  The adventure continues…





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