“Faith!” Foster yelled, falling to his knees. His eyes were closed but aimed at the ceiling. His hands were balled into fists. “Faith!” he yelled again, raising his arms into the air. He had to bite his cheek to keep from laughing. He was the worst actor ever, but contrary to some of his friends, he got paid to make a fool of himself in mediocre plays. He sobbed theatrically, and the curtain closed. Foster released a breath, leaving his character to come back to reality. There was applause, but it wasn’t enthusiastic. Foster got up and reached his hands out to his co-stars, who joined him on stage to bow for the audience. But the applause faded, and the curtains didn’t open again. They looked at each other, shrugging, confused. There was no direction, and they stood on stage, hand in hand, waiting for orders.
“Final curtain,” the producer said, coming on stage too. He exuded confidence, and his appearance spoke of money. Next to him, the director hugged the play to his chest. He looked small and in terrible pain. He had written a script that reminded of other plays that found fame. But his was too trivial, too ordinary, to be acknowledged, and the producer refused to pour any more money into costumes, stage design, or advertising.
“Fired?” Fred asked from Foster’s right side? He was still squeezing his clammy hand. Fred was shaking. Maybe it was anger; maybe it was the adrenalin that left his body after the performance, or maybe, and more likely, he was getting down off something and needed his next fix. Fay held Foster’s left hand tightly. She was so still that he turned to her to see if she was still breathing. And she was. Fortunately.
“C’est la vie,” replied the producer and turned to leave with a wave across his shoulder. The director didn’t say a word. He retreated, too, picking up notes and scripts left and right. He was devastated and ignored his team.
Backstage, the actors wiped the makeup off their faces, they put their costumes on the designated racks to be taken to the dry cleaning, and then they hugged. Even though the scene was small and they would probably see each other again very soon, it felt like a final goodbye. Everyone hugged everyone. Tears streamed freely; after all, they were all in the same boat. They had just lost a paid acting gig. They had worked for months to get it right, and now they were out of work.
One after the other left the theatre for the last time. Their fading backs forgotten by the magnificent building, as soon as the doors closed behind them.
Foster was the last to leave the theatre. He turned to look at the stage, at the seats, at the chandeliers and the red velvet carpets. He took a deep breath, unsure when he would be hired to act in a place like this again. He left the building through the pompous foyer, ran his hands over the glass doors one last time, and closed the door on this chapter of his life.
He needed to get in touch with his agent, and then, he imagined himself going to castings again. It was exhausting, and the constant rejection was hard to take, but it was also part of the job. With the right script, Foster even enjoyed it; sometimes.
At home, Frances, the fat cat, was waiting. She meowed, asking for food. Foster opened a can of something described as fish on the tin can and poured it into the cat’s bowl. She hissed at her feeder, who retreated from the kitchen. Master and servant, it was clear who had which role.
Focussed on processing the evening’s events, Foster pushed his shoes off his feet and started his laptop. He browsed the leading websites for information about his latest failure and promptly found it. But, Foster said up straight, he was not ripped in two for being a bad actor, the play had the worst critics ever, his co-stars too, but he was raved about.
Foster Fields was the highlight of the short-lived play. He brought Finneas to life, and his love for Faith was palpable in every scene. We are convinced to see much more of Foster Field soon.
Foster clapped his hands and rose a fist to the ceiling. He wanted to celebrate, but no one was there right then. He sighed and decided that it was time for bed. It was not much, but these few lines were enough to raise his enthusiasm for his career again. He felt tired but content. Foster followed his usual evening routine, and as soon as his head hit the fluffy pillow, he fell asleep.
And the Academy Award for best male actor in a motion picture goes to… Foster gulped. His heart was racing, and his hands were sweaty. His bowtie was too tight, and the spotlight was too bright and too hot. In front of him, on the big stage, his picture was shown, alongside four other famous actors. Briefly, he wondered why he was at the Oscars and not at the Tonys. But it didn’t matter, because he won. Foster found fame – in his dreams, he did.
He snored peacefully; a smile was on his face. The future looked bright – with his eyes closed.