What I Learned from Flying Monkeys

In October I wrote about how my daughter A10 won the role of a munchkin in the high school’s production of Wizard of Oz.  Well the big show is coming up – Jan 22, 23, and 24.  Which means rehearsals are getting more frequent and more complicated and a little bit more stressful.

Just yesterday I stayed and watched a tech rehearsal of the flying scenes in the show.  Oh, yeah – they’re actually going to FLY the witch on her bike and Glinda in her bubble and the Wicked Witch’s monkeys.  Isn’t that SO cool?!  The school was able to secure the services of a gentleman from Las Vegas (via Hamburg, Germany…his accent was awesome) who is a specialist in this kind of technical stage stuff.

First they rigged the monkeys up for one of their scenes with the Wicked Witch.  There were three monkeys – two girls and one boy.  The director shouted for them to crouch and bounce and move their arms around like monkeys, and commanded that they makes loud, aggressive monkey sounds.  The boy was TOTALLY into it, and he was amazing.  The girls?  Well, they got all, like, ohmygosh!, embarrassed about what they were doing.  Crouch like a monkey?!  Make monkey noises?!  Not while that cute boy from drama class is watching!

I don’t know why, but I wanted to get up on the stage and swing those girls around myself.  And I wouldn’t have been as nice as the Las Vegas guy.

The boy monkey was amazing because he was committed to it.  He didn’t look goofy or silly, because he WAS a monkey.  The girls, on the other hand, drew a ton of laughs from the off-stage actors who were watching.  Which then made them more resistant to acting even remotely monkey-ish.  Which then made them just look like two silly girls in two silly monkey suits.

The director was irate.

They had to run the scene over and over and over and over.  By the 6th or 7th or 43rd time, I think the other actors were realizing that they really needed to be supportive, so instead of snickers, there were words of encouragement.  And FINALLY (finally!) the girls committed to it.  The scene was *great,* and when it was done, all of us in the theatre cheered.

So this is what I learned yesterday from flying monkeys:  just go for it.  It doesn’t matter how silly you think you’re going to look.  If you believe it, others will believe it.  Don’t go half-way – you’ll only end up with a fence wedgie.  COMMIT TO IT, WHATEVER “IT” IS.  And if it helps you to get through it, throw in a few monkey noises for a little something extra.