Backhand Stories: The Creative Writing Blog

No one congratulates the understudy; the role given to the individual who could not make the cut for the lead. Just right for the part, but not as right, not as good, as the chosen actor. An acceptable backup; but not ‘the one’. Sure, while their name is printed in fancy font on the play bill it is only under the bold clear print; the main character’s name. Overlooked, overworked, over-committed; the understudy is no place to be.

Being with you, is being the understudy; the girl behind the scenes. I am the lines, I play the part, I dance the dance, and I feel the feel. I give to the production as much heart as the main character, but it is all behind the curtains, hidden from the audience; just waiting for the chance to shine. I attend every rehearsal, hold the script memorized in my heart; I know the play curtain to curtain. I know you, inside and out. And when on stage, I give you my best performance. A burlesque of my romance, comedy, and drama; with hopes of revenues in your appraisal and applaud. Your commentary and reviews of my talent weigh more than an Ebert & Roeper review. Yet, the words you speak are none less of pure satire. And the costume I wear, the lies I read, the makeup I smother on; cannot hide it.

She’s the bright lights, Broadway New York, and I’m the struggling actor on the Sunset Strip. The one who hides in the dressing room with you when no one is around, who you call when you get cold feet, everything to you; but “the one”. Late at night I am a star in your eyes, the center of the stage; your stage. But the audience only sees where you shine the spotlight and you have me placed backstage, in the dark.

The emergency rehearsals, late night phone calls, and one on one sessions are not lengths taken because you care about enhancing my career. They are carefully scheduled to cure your fear. To make you feel better. So that on opening night when your lead does not show, you have me to rely on. The next best thing. But we all know she will not fall through, and when the final act ceases and she takes her final bow, the bouquet of roses in your hand, belong to her. But why complain, right? The runner up is awarded the silver metal, the best supporting actor still gets an Oscar; and when she’s not around, I still get you.

This sneaking around, fooling around, the extra scenes that do not make the cut; have made me more than an understudy. They have made me the villain. I am your blooper, your flawed dress rehearsal; your mistake. And still when you yell, “one, two, three action!” I put on my best smile and give you every ounce of talent in me. They say actors act on real emotion; the fake tears they cry, they feel. My tears say more than a Spanish soap opera; my words however resemble a teen movie. Predictable. I sing till the credits roll, till the stage goes dark of how happy I am; for you, for her. It is my best act of all, but the parody is clear. I do not believe in superstitions, a bad dress rehearsal will only give you a bad opening night and when I tell her to break a leg; I actually mean it.