The very serious play was Equus, about a boy who mutilated horses by blinding them with an ice pick … horrible to say the very least. I had a small part in this wonderful production. The actors that played the horses had fabulous horse masks made of metal … I’m sure you’ve seen them. They sat patiently at all times in view of the audience when not used as did all the other actors who remained visible on the stage at all times. I was sitting on a catwalk that was suspended over the stage. The only time we would leave that catwalk was to perform our parts and then we would return to our places, but at all times we were visible to the audience.
It was a very quiet part in the play when the actor who had played the part of the Magistrate, who obviously was holding it in as long as humanly possible, let out the LOUDEST fart I’ve ever heard in my life. It exploded with such a force that literally ALL of us actors on the catwalk looked quickly at each other (trying not to be noticed) and as if choreographed by the director, we all stood up simultaneously and left the catwalk to escape to back stage area where we fell on the floor in uncontrollable convulsive laughter – but we had to keep quiet so as not to be heard by an audience who was also trying to keep from going nuts with their own laughter.
I tell you this story which is a very funny one, but to this day I cannot imagine how the lead actors felt having to remain on the stage and continue their lines in this most somber of scenes.
Personally, I would have immediately directed my eyes and my entire demeanor to indicate that the fart came from one of the horses.
Ah well, the show must go on!