We had opened Pegasus Theatre in October 1985 with a “coarse acting” show, so by our fourth season it seemed only fitting that we offer another evening of overly earnest theatre by amateur actors. The Director’s Notes for the show gave a great description:
“Coarse” acting is not necessarily “bad” acting. Naturally it includes that, but there is more to it. Over-zealousness, bad luck, lack of preparation, and just plain lack of experience are some of the qualities and traits that define “coarse” acting… Our purpose is to celebrate and embrace the innocence and naivete of the neophyte, dilettante, and nonprofessional actor… A common characteristic of all “Coarse” actors is their unswerving belief that no matter what goes wrong, “the audience won’t notice a thing.”
In Curse of the Coarse Actors!, artistic director Kurt Kleinmann selected and/or wrote spoofs of (1) a Shakespearean play, (2) a Noel Coward-esque script, (3) an Italian opera, and (4) a David Mamet play. Imagine trying to maintain the upper-class sensibility of Noel Coward while one of the main characters tries to staunch an accidental wound and avoid bleeding to death on stage! Try producing an opera when the orchestra fails to show up, leaving only the triangle player to accompany the ensemble! Imagine delivering lines in a David Mamet script while editing out all the bad language! These were among the many challenges facing our intrepid cast in Curse of the Coarse Actors!, and the result was a delightfully chaotic evening of belly laughs.
The show was so funny in fact that it generated an unintended “coarse” moment on stage! Actor Wendye Clarendon had a death scene in the Italian opera “Il Fornicazione” by Michael Green. Ordinarily, Wendye is the type of actor who delivers a consistent performance, night after night. She is a delight to work with as a result! Her fellow cast members know they can trust her. It will therefore remain a mystery as to why, this one evening, Wendye changed her death scene and extended it to a ridiculous length. It was so incredibly funny that one by one, the other actors on stage succumbed to laughter, and one by one they LEFT THE STAGE to try and get their laughter under control!
The audience of course loved it, and I confess that I did as well. It confirmed one of the many reasons we’ve devoted much of our lives to live theatre: Anything can happen at any time, and how you react to unexpected challenges says a lot about how you want to live your life!
Please join me in giving three cheers to #19 on our list of Pegasus Theatre’s top 30 shows: Curse of the Coarse Actors! (1990)