In April, 1937, she has just turned 19, is in college to be a secretary, has best friends Ernie and Zosh.
Sometimes I do that to center myself because as we speak I am down stairs with her “doing breakfast” and she is 98, has had four kids, needs help with making food, unlacing her apron, taking a shower.
April sees the resolution of the conflict with the performance of both plays.
The WPA play:
Wednesday, April 7th, 1937
And the night of the play came and is gone. Everyone seems to think it went off very well indeed. The people applauded me, but I didn’t keep a straight face all the way through and I’m not satisfied. Andy has an offer from Mr. Malone to be in the next play. Mother went and Mrs. Maziarz. Mother thought Zosh and Ray were the best.
Quite frankly, I’m surprised, but pleased, that it went over so well. There was more drama for this production off stage than there was on stage. Before the show goes up Frank, the director, tells his cast that the show was announced in the newspaper so it is happening even though they aren’t prepared. I shouldn’t be surprised that they managed. (It wasn’t perfect but it certainly didn’t go off like Babu’s piano recital!) When you’re doing theatre you are rarely, if ever, prepared to the point where you can say, “Yes, perfect timing, we are ready,” on opening night. The theatre muse must be especially cruel because she makes her participants struggle in self doubt and panic right to the very end. I do hope, however, that Babu learned a lesson about staying in character! She should also learn, in regards to how she hated the part of Bessie, that there are no small parts only…
But now it comes to the Bay Path performance.
Then to rehearsal which didn’t go very badly. Mr. Dudley said he should punch me in the nose for carrying on two shows at once, but it’s all over now. He criticized me a few times, but liked the way I imitated Darcy.
Rehearsals continue throughout the month and for both Ernie and Babu they see the beginning of romance flying! (Ups and downs as always.)
We had dinner at 3:30 and went to rehearsal. Ernie and I almost quarreled cause I wouldn’t go out with her and Bingly for ice cream. (I don’t like to be a third.) Mr. Wickham and I got along fairly well. He held my hand during our last scene. I made a mess of it. I mean the scene.
Why did you make a mess of it? Was it because your hand was being held and you couldn’t remember your lines over the thumping of your heart? (That’s the two and two I’m putting together, anyway.)
The names she writes are the names of the roles they play. Bingly is Walter C. and Wickham is Benny K. Don’t worry, we haven’t found a future husband yet. (Not for Babu at least, I don’t know about about Ernie!) It will be the usual up and down with Benny “Wickham” K.
Mr. Wickham is not so attentive as he used to be. I’ve slipped.
Then the performance itself:
Saturday, April 24th, 1937
Slept well until 10:30 and then breakfast, dressing, and to school for the play. Such is the life of an actress. Only it is over too soon. Wore my suit and looked pretty good. The play was well received. Benny and I got along well. He’s gone home for the weekend. I guess I won’t be seeing him any more now. Hope Mr. And Mrs. Dudley give a party for the cast.
I’ll speak from experience and from the information in the other passage to explain what the “life of an actress” is.
She may get up at 10:30 but two days ago had rehearsal until 1:30 in the morning. Doing two plays at once and getting the threat of a punch in the nose. Going out to eat ice cream with new friends with stage make up on that looks terrible face to face and natural under harsh stage lights. Getting congratulations when possibly all you felt you accomplished was “pulling it off” and barely at that. And with heartbreak, going back to “real life” and not spending massive quality hours with people who have become closer friends then you’ll ever have yet they were forged in the crucible of only two months.
Yes! The magic of theatre!!! #theatrelife #theatrefamily
And in regards to being the care taker and granddaughter of the 98 year old woman who once completed all of these capers, it ain’t all bad! This morning I gave her star fruit with breakfast! It was both of our first times trying it. What also makes it not so bad is how she comes out in the morning for breakfast and goes in for a hug and almost shouts “good morning!” and “I love you!” in Polish.
I love being here for all of this, and almost being there in 1937! (It feels that way.)
Speaking of 1937, now that both performances have been relative successes, what is next for Babu?
Also, Frank Janik is putting on another play and I’m to be dumb again. An ignorant Swedish girl 11 days from Sweden. Will I like it? Will come to that later.