In the play we’re doing for the Citizen’s Play Festival, there’s a cage, a dog crate large enough for an actor playing a 12-year-old boy. At first I assumed we wouldn’t use a real cage. After all, it’s just a staged reading. Even in a full production, a real cage would probably be too literal. The designer would come up with something better.
But as the director pointed out, with a 10-minute segment in a fest you need to communicate basic story elements quickly. The kid lives in a cage, it would be good to have a cage. One of the actors had one in his garage, so yesterday morning I drove over to pick it up.
When I returned, I parked out front and carried first the metal base into the house. Dave was busy practicing, but Django came over and sniffed the base when I set it on the living room rug. I went back for the cage part and she followed me out. Down the block, a neighbor was playing ball with his kids. The cage was heavy and unwieldy. I set it down a few times on my way to the front door. Django laid down in the grass, far from the cage, watching my progress.
When I got to the front door, Dave came out and carried in the cage. I turned to call Django and saw the neighbor girl from down the block. “Hi,” she said.
“Hi,” I replied. “Come on, Django.” Django remained on the lawn, watching the crate move into the house.
“Is that a dog cage?” asked the girl.
“What’s it for?”
“It’s just a prop for a play we’re rehearsing here.”
This was the longest conversation we’d ever had. I added, “I think Django thinks it’s for her.”
The little girl and I looked at Django, who was now looking away from the front door. “That’s what my dad thought, too.”
“Come on, Django,” I called. “It’s gone now. It’s not for you.” Django came inside and the girl went back to her dad. I imagined her telling him, “It’s not for the dog, it’s for a play they’re practicing in their living room.” And I imagined one more weird thing about the weird couple being added to the rolls.