Friday, January 18, 2008
Catie Provost has heard all the jokes.
She's an actress. She broke her leg.
No, she didn't take the age-old stage advice literally, at least not on purpose.
It happened Dec. 19. Provost heard a neighbor in the apartment below her screaming for help. She called the police and ran down the stairs, horrified.
She tripped, and the outside bone on her left foot snapped in two.
Provost, a recent Kansas University graduate, was scheduled to play a lead role in Whitney Rowland's play "Lights Fade, Curtain," in regional competition at the Kennedy Center American Theatre Festival in Omaha, Neb., Jan. 20-26.
The play is one of five produced by English Alternative Theatre that has been selected for the conference. Rowland wrote three of those, which is a record for the competition, says Paul Lim, the KU professor who also directs EAT.
With Provost's leg in a cast, the show is going on with a few tweaks in stage blocking. A benefit show is scheduled for 10 p.m. Saturday at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H.
"What makes this whole incident somewhat amusing is that the character she portrays in the play is married to a very angry man who is not incapable of being physically abusive," Lim says. "But we don't really want audiences to think that she is on crutches with a broken foot because her husband threw her down the stairs or something horrible like that."
Rowland is beginning to worry that her stage writing is cursed. In addition to Provost's injury, a KU actor in one of her plays recently suffered a concussion from a car accident, and another actor starring in a Rowland play at Johnson County Community College needed vocal cord surgery.
"I want everyone to quit the shows for their health," she says.
Even with Provost's injury, Rowland says she never had a thought to re-cast her.
"As soon as I got the e-mail, I cracked up," Rowland says. "Not at her misfortune, but at my situation. I thought, 'I told her to break a leg, and she took it literally, and it's my fault.'"
The injury has led to some unexpected laughs during the play, which is a fairly serious look at a playwright's visit to his comatose mother on her deathbed.
"One of the characters says to her, 'Well, you look well,'" Rowland says. "Now, that's going to be funny."
Provost says the pain on stage is tolerable. So far, the jokes have been, too.
"The funniest joke I've heard was from my orthopedic surgeon," she says. "It was a play on words, something about how I'm the one in a cast ... in a cast."
The least funny part? It turns out Provost's neighbor - the one screaming for help - was only reacting to an overflowing toilet.