JUDYISMS: ‘My Memory of an Onstage Trauma That the Audience Never Saw or Even Heard or Cared About’ by Judy Stadt

I never had stage fright. Of course, I had the adrenaline rushes before the shows, but not fear of the stage … In fact for me it was just the opposite. I was in heaven upon a stage, to me it was that one place where i was truly happy, where I felt so absolutely loved … And I have found that all of my many emotional needs were met in that experience along with a feeling of being truly alive.

However, the one time that knocked me for a loop, in all the years and the eighty plays, happened to me only twice, but those experiences were so terrifying that they informed all of the cells in my ever growing body to be scared shitless of it ever happening again. Here’s one of those experiences. (It still gives me goosebumps).

Judy Stadt

I was in a world premiere of a new play and the exquisitely funny thing (to me) was that it wasn’t me who was having the memory lapse, it was my costar … Who also happened to be the playwright! I was playing the part of an IRS Agent and he came in for an audit. During that scene my costar/playwright jumped a few pages – that’s right – I said a few pages and it really threw me because I had to figure out where he went in the script. Don’t forget that because this was a premiere of a brand new play – there were many script changes that took place during the rehearsal period which made it extremely tricky to put into memory under the best of circumstances.

Anyway, my costar/playwright then made a decision. He couldn’t just leave those precious words unsaid, no, he couldn’t just keep on going (believe me the omitted words didn’t alter the play at all). Oh, no, he had to speak the words that he had written! So, what did he do? He went back to where he was in the script before he jumped those wonderful pages. But now, now bear with me folks, we were continuing the scene and of course, I knew that we were coming back to the part that we played already – and it wasn’t just a word or two – it was pages.

It was as if I was in a rowboat with no oars, and I heard the waterfall getting closer and my boat was drifting inexorably toward it… I wonder if you can picture the panic that I felt at that moment? And to add to it I was absolutely trapped in that chair with my back up against the wall (literally), and trapped by that scene, and trapped by the costar/playwright – whom I sincerely wanted to strangle.

Well, needless to say we got through it (I still don’t know exactly how … It’a a blur) but here’s the best part: After the performance my costar/playwright had the very large balls to insinuate that I was the one who did the skipping of the pages. Of course, I had the entire crew as my witnesses – and they told him in no uncertain terms that it was he and not me who made le grande faux pas.

I never want to go through that again … Although actually, i don’t think it’s possible, because I’m much more confident an actor … Aging does that for you my darlings … It’s really a good thing too.

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