This one time in acting class I got paired with a male actor I didn’t know very well to work an assigned scene in which we played boyfriend and girlfriend dealing with an HIV diagnosis. I’ll name this young man Eric.
Eric and I had a great first week; we had effective rehearsals, we both got to know our characters, and we let ourselves play around with each other a little bit to get closer to a familiar girlfriend/boyfriend-like relationship. Here I’ll admit that acting is a little weird because to do a scene well you have to allow yourself to be incredibly, intimately vulnerable with your fellow actors. This builds trust and allows for true relating between characters – but (and it’s a big but) – actors usually want to keep any vulnerabilities within the context of character and scene.
By week two it was clear Eric was not one of those usual actors. Instead, Eric took the opportunity to force intimate, real-life conversations on me, his pretend girlfriend. I found myself talking Eric through drama he was having with his mom (she was mad at his sister for wanting to leave her abusive husband. What!) and reassuring him he would one day find a girl who loved him for him and not for his body (no joke). Often this would happen mid-rehearsal because talking about our lives helped Eric to “improvise” our bond.
Things really began to trend downhill during week three. Because we had a kiss during our scene, Eric liked to try to spring an improvised kiss on me “as the character” 2-3 times each time we ran our piece. Yet, he never liked to improvise fights even though our characters also yelled at and spat at each other in our scene. Convenient.
I knew Eric was bat shit crazy by week four. We had received a dismal review of “you’re making this too precious” and “stick to the text” from our acting coach the week prior, meaning we were being melodramatic (shocker!) and improvising too much. So, at rehearsal, Eric really wanted to improvise to make the scene feel more authentic to the text. Whatever Eric. So we improvised, and during the part where Eric’s character bares his soul and begs his love to stay, Eric dropped his pants and flopped his tiny, limp penis at me, in a completely serious, completely non-sexual attempt to be emotionally raw with me.
As most adults know, penis flopping ought to be a consensual and predetermined activity. I yelped at the horror of Eric’s skinny little trouser snake dancing around in his giant man bush and averted my eyes. Without skipping a beat, Eric pulled his pants up and continued the scene as though he hadn’t just flashed limp noodle dong at me. I yelled “STOP TALKING” and Eric laughed a bit too casually. I told him I wasn’t cool with the penis slinging and ended rehearsal, and Eric thanked me for my honesty and told me how much he appreciated my work ethic and passion as an actor. I threw up in my mouth a little bit and left, then called in sick for our final class performance. And now I get to tell the internet about his small weiner and even smaller mind.