W. Bruce Cameron: Stage-manager notes for a production of The Princess and the Magic Bunny, written and directed by Miss Yibbertson, first-grade teacher.

5 p.m.: You, Stage Manager, arrive an hour early to make sure everything is OK. Miss Yibbertson appears about as calm as a methamphetamine addict. She asks you to repaint the castle door because it doesn’t look “realistic.” You don’t mention that said door is cardboard from a refrigerator box and really isn’t ever going to look like it belongs on a castle.



5:30 p.m.: Finish painting door, with Miss Yibbertson pacing and muttering to herself. The actors are supposed to be arriving. They’re late. Assure Miss Yibbertson they’ll be here, everything is fine.



5:32 p.m.: Assure Miss Yibbertson they’ll be here, everything is fine.



5:34 p.m.: Ask Miss Yibbertson to quit asking you if you think the kids are going to show up.



5:35 p.m.: Four of the Castle Guards arrive in the same car pool and react to the warning that the castle door is wet by touching it to make sure. They look bewildered when Miss Yibbertson asks them if they remember what to do, since “all they do is stand there while the girls talk.”



5:40 p.m.: Deal with the arrival of the Fairy and her enormous wings. Apparently, the mother of the Fairy thought the title of the play was My Daughter Has the Most Elaborate Costume. Help the Fairy clean the black paint off her wings. Assure Miss Yibbertson everything will be fine.



5:45 p.m.: Deal with the guards, who are practicing their sword fight. Deal with Miss Yibbertson, who says the play has no sword fight.



5:50 p.m.: The mother of the Princess is furious because she’s seen the Fairy’s costume and “the Princess is supposed to be the pretty one.” She threatens to pull her daughter from the show.



5:55 p.m.: Ask the boys to stop throwing the papier-maché boulders at each other. Ask the mothers of the Princess and the Fairy to stop yelling at each other. Ask Miss Yibbertson to stop crying.



6 p.m.: One of the boys appears in a pirate costume, which would be fine except there are no pirates in the play. The boy in question has a speaking role as the Wise Owl in the woods. Upon seeing the pirate, Miss Yibbertson collapses into what appears to be a dead faint. The boys think this is pretty cool. Remind everyone that the show is supposed to start now.



6:05 p.m.: The boys who are the Frog-Family Singers are angry because no one told them they had the option of being pirates. One of the Fairy’s wings is torn in the ongoing sword fight. The Castle Guards have painted their faces black so they can look more like Delta Force. The mother of the Princess appears smug over the torn wing, which prompts the mother of the Fairy to use a few words that momentarily silence everybody. The boys think this kind of language is pretty cool.



6:10 p.m.: The Magic Bunny has arrived. Her costume is little more than pajamas with a Bugs Bunny mask. Miss Yibbertson takes one look at her and lapses back into her coma. The boys’ papier-maché swords are pretty much pulverized. The mothers of the Princess and the Fairy aren’t speaking to each other, but the girls themselves are playing a game in the corner.



6:15 p.m.: The show is supposed to open with the Wise Owl, but he’s still in the bathroom, wrestling with his pirate costume. Delta Force has tipped over the castle. The mother of the Fairy is furious because her daughter’s wing was repaired with duct tape. The mother of the Princess is in a pretty good mood. Miss Yibbertson is walking around saying, “I did my best.”



6:20 p.m.: Fix the castle. The Wise Owl is center stage, adjusting his eye patch. The Magic Bunny is crying because she forgot to bring her carrot. Hand her the backup carrot you brought for just this sort of occurrence, and the smile she offers sort of makes this whole thing worthwhile.



6:25 p.m.: Curtain up.


Write to Bruce at [email protected]

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