Friday, March 3, 2017

Actors Know Stuff

No theatre lover, I. People on Broadway are still talking about the time Peggy took me to see The Phantom Of The Opera and I fell dead asleep, only regaining consciousness in time to see a giant chandelier plummeting earthward.

Image result for ed norton art carneyI had tried to figure the story out as it unwound in front of me, but when they started talking about a guy who lived in the subterranean sewers, all I could think of was Ed Norton >>> from The Honeymooners, and when the scene shifted to Paris, I was lost and yielded to sweet restoring sleep.

I hope I didn't snore,  But once I heard them singing, "Close your eyes
for your eyes will only tell the truth
and the truth isn't what you want to see," I closed my eyes, because THAT PLAY wasn't what I wanted to see.

You know who else felt that way? Abraham Lincoln! Chances are, he was a tired man by April, 1865, having just won another presidential election and a civil war.  But off he went to see "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater, and, well, you know how that turned out.

I've always been interested in reading about a man who had an even worse time at the theatre than any of us did. Here's something I find fascinating.  

John Wilkes Booth, the guy who killed Lincoln because he was unhappy about the way the Civil War turned out (as are a lot of people even yet today 🙍☹) was an actor by trade, and a pretty good one, very famous in his day, with no "Entertainment Tonight" to make him even more so.   

He planned the assassination for just the moment in the play of peak applause and laughter so that the sound of his gunshot would be drowned out by the hooting and hollering of the assemblage. As an actor, he knew the line to wait for, spoken by actor Harry Hawk:

"Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap!"

This was enough to convulse a room full of people in 1865, you see.  

"Sockdologize" was a word they used a lot back then. It meant a knockout blow, enough to end a discussion.  

I'm afraid that no matter how much that guy down the street annoys you, you cannot go down there and threaten to sockdologize him.  For one thing, he wouldn't know what you mean, and for another, if he guessed, well, it sounds kind of...bizarre, unnatural, you know?

The word lives on in the current "I'm gonna sock you on the jaw!" but that hardly would put a crowd into paroxysms of laughter, would it?   

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