The Flat that Walked

Written by: Ant Gavin Smits
"All right, my darlings," said the Artistic director. "Dress rehearsal today and opening night tomorrow. One more super effort needed. I can’t believe how good you all are. Kisses and hugs."
Cumlately sat down and stared a moment at Mary Melonze’s nails. "Terrible colour," he said.
Backstage, Tanner looked up at the fly platform. Percy’s head appeared.
"This tree on that flat is blocking my view when you set it," said Percy. "I won’t see Lennie’s hand when he wants the backcloth in quick. It’s a tight bloody change, you know."
Tanner shook his head. "Don’t worry; it’ll be okay. After setting the stays on that flat, I’ll make sure the cloth clears the stepladders and signal you. And Melton," he added, remembering. "Then I’ll nip offstage."
After hearing Tanner, Marge looked at her cue board and altered her notes. It was comforting to have a good crew. She knew the hands only gave her information on a problem after they’d sorted it. She didn’t mind. The system worked and although Tanner’s mouth was one pain too many some days, he knew his flats.
Marge looked over to the prompt wings and saw George and ‘Legs’ Louise getting ready to bring on stepladders to be placed behind the flat once Tanner had placed it. ‘Sweetie-pie’ Sam had the mic, ready to run on and attach it to the ladders. Melton had to climb to the top, so he could peer through gaps between the painted branches and sing to his co-star.
Half-way through the third scene, Cumlately dabbed his eyes and turned to Mary. "This is such a sad scene. Melton plays the spurned lover so well." He sniffed and wiped an eye. "How will I get through this?"
Marge waited for the end of the scene, cued Sparks, and spoke into her intercom set. "Cue 53 and ready 54 – go tabs – go flat – go 54 – ready 55 …"
Tanner grabbed the tall, ponderous flat and ran it in to meet Legs who held the stays. As Tanner hooked them in place, George placed the stepladders and pulled two weights onto the stay feet.
"Where’s the third stay?" Tanner hissed, signaling Percy. The cloth dropped and Tanner ran as the curtain opened.
Marge held her breath.
Tanner looked at Marge. "It’s shivering. The bloody thing is gonna’ walk."
Melton opened the scene by dramatically delivering his lines and the painted-on tree swayed as if a gale had blown in through the stage door. As Tanner had feared, the flat ‘walked’ forward, then toppled suddenly, soundlessly. Exposed, Melton clung to his ladder in full view, with only his top half costumed.
Fortunately, a large gap between the painted branches saved the co-star from injury as the flat thumped loudly onto the sloping stage. She tried to deliver her line with a straight face. “And now I suppose you will be tying me to a tree.”
Tanner laughed. "Someone call a midwife. The Director’s having a baby. Or maybe kittens."


Yes, another episode that shines as we start to get used to characters and what they are about. I liked the way we get a little in-depth look at the working of the stage through Marge and the cut from pain in the ass Tanner to Tanner the expert flat runner. Just one thing though, Ant. You have obviously edited this chapter and one thing one might remember is that punctuation should be consistent. The apostrophes/commas are in two different fonts, not that that detracts from the story. Just a little irritating. Apart from that I thought this carried us really well into the next scene. Nice chapter, Ant.
It had great pace and I smiled at all the rushing around. Sounded chaotic! Very well managed Ant.