TfD Origins — February 15th, 2010

Story 3 for you today in our tiptoe down the timeline of the evolution of the awesomest book series about a fictional TV show: Trolls for Dust.

I really enjoy writing about theater and film production, and what I imagine actors’ lives to be like.  It must be fun to play a different person every few weeks or months.  It must be fun to jump into other people’s shoes and stomp around in them.  Writer’s do that too…but in our heads.  The coolest thing about actors is that they (in character) humiliate themselves on screen/stage.  Why is this cool?  For one thing, it’s fun for other people to watch — heh.  Seriously, though, people who know how to laugh at themselves and how to laugh at the often ridiculousness of human nature are cool people.

Equally cool, yet not as acknowledged, are the crew members behind the scenes.  If the production is timed to perfection, it’s often bedlam backstage.  Crew members have the tough job of keeping up with the pace of the show and/or shooting schedule, and also in balancing the needs of the story with the often amusing/irritating quirks of their coworkers.

In this one-pager about a costume designer, I can already see the shadows of Harmony Honeydew, Eva Peters, Michael Abner, and Marie (Don’t know these names?  Check out the Cast of Characters page).

As always, happy reading!  –Pixie

February 15, 2010 (Story Forty-Six)

Backstage, the dressing rooms were in chaos.  Not fifteen minutes before the show and Beth found herself piecing together a new apron for Tara who had torn hers on a nail, tumbled down the stairs and landed in a basement stash of half-full paint cans.  Since, Raggy-Peggy, the heroine of the play, was supposed to be clumsy, Tara was perfect for the role.  However, she’d gone through five costumes, all before opening night.

Beth heard the chorus warming up next door, gargling and chirping and me-ma-mo-ing.  A few of the principal actors stood at the mirror and applied makeup to their wide-eyed faces.  The play, entitled “Raggy-Peggy,” was about a group of rag dolls who save a factory of broken toys from destruction.  Baron Tome, the gruff owner of the toy factory, falls in love with Raggy-Peggy and decides to fix all the toys.

Freddy stuck his head in the door.  “Beth, how’s it coming?”

“Almost done.”  She held up the nearly-finished apron.

“You seen Bloomsberg?  The walls are leaning again.”

“I think he’s back testing out the microphones.”  Jeminia, one of the principals, sang back.  Freddy yelled thanks and ran off.  “What is this, the twenty-fifth apron you’ve had to make?”  Jeminia carefully applied pink circles to both cheeks.

“Feels like the hundredth.”  Beth said.  She snipped the threads and went off in search of Tara.  She passed by the sets, which looked fantastic.  Freddy must have found Bloomsberg, for the old man scurried around tapping on the set walls to ensure their strength.  Already the audience was hushing in expectation of the performance.

“Beth!  There you are!”  Tara ran up with her yarn wig askew and her simple underdress covered in dust. Her doll makeup made her look even more spacey, more prone to accidents.  Beth helped her into her costume and tied on the apron.  “I’m nervous!  What if I fall?  Of course I’m going to fall, I’m supposed to, but what if I fall for real?”

“Then you’ll pop back up and continue with the scene.”  Beth carefully brushed a piece of lint off of one of Tara’s thick eyebrows.

“Places, everyone!”  Professor Gibson called.  This was the first production he’d directed in awhile and he was a bit nervous, wringing the script in his hands and eyeing Tara with worry.  Jeminia and her troupe came up, along with the chorus.  Handsome Thomas, who was to play the Baron had yet to appear.  He didn’t come on for the first couple of scenes.  Beth imagined him at his dressing table.  He would try on several different mustaches, and, after making all the appropriate faces of surprise, anger, and merriment, would choose the dark, floppy one she had picked out for him during the first week of rehearsal.

The crowd sat in silence; the actors stood in their places.  The set walls held steady and the professor gave the nod to raise the curtain. Beth held her breath, but worry quickly disappeared.  She found herself laughing along with the onstage antics.  Tara was in form for once, her clumsiness earnest.  Gibson had seen her potential when no one else did.  This was not the Raggy-Peggy of rehearsal.  This was the Raggy-Peggy of literature!

Beth sensed someone beside her and looked up into warm brown eyes.  Thomas stood there in the right mustache and his Baron clothes.  He nodded to her, indicating the garments.  She smiled and straightened the coat on his shoulders.  When she pulled at the tie, he bent his face to hers, tickling her skin with synthetic fibers of mustache.  Beth blew at him with her pert mouth, and, using a well-placed hand, pushed him onto the stage.

P.S. — If you want a treat of a movie all about the comic tragedy of the life of the theater, see Me and Orson Welles directed by Richard Linklater.

–Original story by Pixie Beldona was previously published on  It has been edited for this post.–

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