Chance walked up to Rebecca, no longer wearing his coat. He had on a baggy red sweater that was to die for.
“You’re still in your jacket?”
“It’s chilly in here.”
“Come on,” he said, motioning for her to follow him backstage. She did.
Off to one side of the stage, there was a large open area, larger than Rebecca expected. A few folding chairs stood at odd angles, surrounded by a pile of everyone’s coats and jackets.
“Just put your stuff there,” Chance said. “No one will mess with it.”
Rebecca peeled off her coat and threw it onto the pile.
“I’ll keep my scarf,” she said, tying it into a loose knot around her neck. “I like it.”
Chance turned his head away from her and shouted, “Hey, Tony, how we doing?”
“Too much to do,” a voice came from one shadowed corner of backstage.
Chance walked forward into the darkness. Rebecca followed.
As her eyes adjusted, Rebecca saw what looked like a cage, surrounded on all sides by chain link fence. Inside was a small, mousy guy she had never seen before.
‘What’re you all doing?” the kid said, staring down at several rows of switches and dials in front of him. “Too many changes, too much.”
“Hey, Tony,” Chance said. “Maybe you’d like to meet Rebecca. She just joined the cast. Maybe you’d like to come out of hiding and be polite to someone for once.”
“What’s with all these new scenes?” Tony said, flipping a number of switches in front of him. “Bringing in more actors. Changes, changes, changes. Nobody sticks to a plan anymore.”
“Do you ever speak in complete sentences?” Chance said.
“Too much to do,” Tony said. “Too much, too much.”
Chance turned and walked away from Tony, who continued fretting over his equipment.
“Tony does all the lighting,” Chance said. “It’s a high stress job.”
“I’ve haven’t seen him around school since I’ve been here.”
“He keeps to himself when he’s not Mr. Lighting Guy.”
Rebecca checked her watch. “It’s 9:20. We were supposed to start rehearsal 20 minutes ago.”
“We’ve already started,” Chance said, once more flashing his trademark smile. “It’s how Mr. Stone’s directs. We have breakfast every Saturday morning right on the set, and that helps our performances. When the set feels like home for us, the audience doesn’t question it.”
She looked up at him. “I don’t think Francisca and her friends are going to let me share that couch with them.”
“Francisca’s not mad at you. She’s angry because she wanted to play Lady M.,” Chance said. “That’s the part she wants, not yours. She’s actually nice once you get to know her.”
“I hope that’s true.”
Rebecca and Chance walked back onto the stage. Everyone had gathered around Pickle as he once more tried to juggle, dropping the three beanbags while almost falling backwards onto his butt. Rebecca wondered if this, too, was part of his act, and that he flailed about only for the sake of slapstick laughs.
Whether that was his intent, he was interrupted as Mr. Stone walked out on stage, clapping his hands.
“Good one, Pickle,” he said. “Keep working at it.”
Pickle gathered up the three beanbags, hobbled over to the couch, and sat next to Alma. She looked disgusted at the thought of being near him.
Chance dropped to the floor, sitting cross-legged. Rebecca did the same, glad to be next to him.
“Everybody get a donut?” Mr. Stone said. “Good. As I told you all on Monday, we’re adding new scenes to the Scottish Play.”
The words “Scottish Play” stung Rebecca. She couldn’t see why he couldn’t just say the title.
“Here at Dipping High, we tread our own path,” he said. “We go where no one else dares to go. Most folks agree that the Hecate scenes in the Scottish Play not only have nothing to do with the plot, but were not written by Shakespeare at all. You could make that case – the rhyming in those scenes is completely different from the rest of the play, and it’s remarkably similar to some other’s guy’s play from the same time.
“Despite all this evidence, though, the Hecate scenes are nonetheless historically attached to Scottish Play. So I thought if we’re going to do the Scottish Play, let’s do it all – let’s go all out. Let’s do the Hecate scenes. After all everyone’s favorite scenes from the Scottish Play are the witches.”
“Because chicks rule,” said Francisca from her seat of power on the couch.
“Because girls do indeed rule,” said Mr. Stone, with a kind smile. “The witches, the magical, supernatural aspect of the play. This is what audiences are drawn to. Despite M.’s ambition and Lady M.’s deviousness, everybody still latches onto the witches and their dark magic. So, I’m thinking, let’s make the most of that. Let’s celebrate the dark fantasy of the Scottish Play. Let’s give the witches their due.”
Mr. Stone extended a hand to his left, opening it to Rebecca. “To that end, let me introduce Rebecca Thane, who’s joining the cast as Hecate, queen of the witches.”
Rebecca considered standing, but didn’t. Instead she managed a small wave and said, “Hey.”
“You’ve all had a week to study the new scenes,” Mr. Stone said. “Before we begin, I’ve got
something here that I think will help you all get into character.”
He smiled, on the verge of full-blown laughter. “You’re going to get a kick out of this,” he said.
The chest at the front center of the stage opened as Mr. Stone opened it and pulled out a small object covered by a black sheet.
“Want to know what it was like to be a witch back in the old days?” Mr. Stone said. “Here you go.”
He pulled off the sheet. From where Rebecca sat, she couldn’t quite see what he held. It looked like a small grey rock.
Pickle laughed, a hoot-like sound. “That thing is awesome.”
“No, it’s disgusting,” Antonia said.
Mr. Stone turned to Rebecca, and she saw what was in his hand. It was a human skull.
To be continued.
ACT FOUR SCENE ONE is being serialized a chapter a day from now through the end of October. This is a workshop draft, so your feedback is appreciated. Want more? Check out my book, CINE HIGH, now available for the Kindle and the free Kindle app.