Letters to Domai
Dear DOMAI I just wanted to share with you an experience I had some years ago. While at University I was part of a young theatre group which presented amateur plays. It was just a group of people of all ages who had a love of performing.
Most of the cast were young people of about 17 to 25. The older members tended to drift away as they got married and became busy. The administration and running of the group was left to the very enthusiastic older types who had some experience. Myself and the other teenagers just took whatever parts we could and did as we were directed.
The city gave us permanent use of a hall for a couple of years and its stage was just what we needed but backstage was very cramped. We usually presented Shakespeare or other traditional shows but we would only have about 10 or so in the cast - so we all took multiple characters, especially for crowd scenes.
There were about three other regular guys who acted and the rest were all girls. The girls were the most enthusiastic about performing and the theatre. They were all lovely, energetic and very outgoing. They were always singing or calling out in the street and making a scene wherever we went.
The ringleader was a beautiful and tall brunette girl called Kay who was by far the loudest. Her energy encouraged all the other girls to be exuberant and funny.
There was only the one area, an old kitchen, which suited as a dressing room. It has shelf space and a sink so we would always pile in there with all our costuming. When I was cast in my first show, I felt rather out of place. Everyone else had experience - at least within the group - and I thought they were all such great actors. It was Kay who first told me to "get in here and tell us about yourself." All the younger ones would hang out in the kitchen for hours it seemed while the administrators and the directors would argue on stage about this and that.
After a few weeks of rehearsal it was like we had been friends forever and, as we got closer to opening night, we started to get into costume.
I can still remember my heart racing when I realised that Janet, a girl in the cast of about 18, had taken her top off and was slipping into a smock right next to me. This almost floored me but I didn't flinch. When I turned around though I saw Kay fully naked from the back and another guy and girl half naked and putting on their tights. Janet noticed me and said, "oh we're one big happy family in the theatre". Not being out-done was everything to this group of kids so I stripped down calmly to my underpants while facing the group and put my costume on without a word.
I soon realised that what everyone really liked was dressing up and being "real" actors. The guys would sit around smoking and just wearing their leggings and chatting as casually as ever to the girls who would spend ages doing their makeup, hair and changing into their costumes.
The first and last change, each night involved almost all of them getting completely nude so they could pull on their tights or fish-nets.
The director or stage manager would call out '5 minutes' and then it would be chaos. I remember Kay had the most beautiful figure though I dwelt looking at all the girls equally long. She aged from 19 through to 21 during my time there and she had long strong legs and a long torso which seemed to stretch for miles. Her breasts were full and pointed out from her chest like they wanted to see what you were doing. She had black hair in bob cut that curled under to frame her face and she smiled all the time.
I often got completely nude myself and I would do so without catching anyone's eye, I was aware each time of the girls' faces open in my direction. I remember the first time I let them all see me naked I looked carefully for any difference in their reactions to me afterwards. It might have been in my head but they did seem to be even more comfortable around me then like I was 'one of them'. There was a real "us-and-them" distinction between the cast and the audience. The girls often talked about it as if we saw each other's 'real' selves but the audience just saw the characters.
I remember Janet was short but with very petite legs and smaller breasts high on her young chest. A highlight was once when I engaged her in conversation and she stood there topless and picking fluff off her stockings for about two minutes telling me about her new job. Two of the other girls who were quieter and always hung around like twins were heavier-set but still youthfully curvaceous with smooth shaped hips that an artist would adore and much heavier breasts. They always wore much bigger bras and had large flat areolas. It was these two I had to stop myself staring at.
It was a concentrated effort at nonchalance that kept me appearing casual in front of them. One show had a can-can number in it and the girls were in heaven. Instead of being put out at having to dress 'trashy' and flick up their skirts, they thought it was the most glamorous, hysterical thing. That show was the most fun. The girls seemed to be trying to out-do each other with how comfortable they were nude. One time, about three of them stood there in just their fish-nets, comparing the frilliness of their knickers and how suitable they were for the can-can. It wasn't until the stage manager gave us a time call that they clamored to pull their dresses on.
Like most hobbies I moved on, though I still keep in touch with many of the cast. We email each other a couple of times a year and sometimes go and see plays together. The friendship, camaraderie and self expression that we found in the dressing room we talk about just as much as any of the actual plays.