January 6 is Epiphany, Twelfth Night, Kings' Day, a.k.a. La Fête des Rois. It is also my birthday! While the rest of France is stuffing themselves with scrumptious, flaky galette des rois and hoping to get the slice with the fève to be the king of the day, I have other plans. My birthday decree is that I get to be Queen for the Day anyway, right here at Polly-Vous Français.
No cardboard crowns for me. It's my party and I'll do what I want to. So I took a wee birthday stroll down Memory Lane (rue de la Recherche du Temps Perdu?), and look what I found! Another French Party.
Oui, that is none other than Polly-Vous Français, moi-même, the lady with the double-strand pearl choker and hair piled high. I was playing the role of the Marquise de Merteuil in a community theatre production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Yup, that's right. Me and Glenn Close, soul sisters. So, maybe I don't rank as Queen for the Day. Marquise for the Day.
Trivia about the production:
I'm convinced that I was cast in the lead role of Marquise not because of any superior acting talents, but because I was the only one who could pronounce Merteuil at auditions. Ironically, I never had to mention my character's name on stage.
The rest of the cast called me Myrtle.
Theatre trick #1. My hair was poofed up over a pair of rolled-up knee-socks (clean ones!) and fastened with 42 bobby pins.
Theatre trick #2. We all had painted-on cleavage. We women, that is.
This photo of cast and crew was taken during the First Bush administration, and I haven't changed an iota, except for the big hair, right? Can you tell by my expression that I couldn't breathe in that corset?
The gold curtains were discards from the living room of the house I'd just moved to.
I was married at the time, and had to kiss the dashing Valmont live, in public, on stage. In rehearsals and performances. No fake kiss, either. That was fun...
And then I um.
Oh, sorry. Where was I? Let's see, my dress weighed 25 pounds. It had hundreds of quarter-inch mirrors sewn into the bodice and the folds of the skirt so it totally dazzled the audience every time I swept regally across the stage. Good thing the dress dazzled them, because my acting sure didn't.
The review in the local newspaper said "[Polly] did a fine job with a difficult part." (How do you say to damn with faint praise in French?)
My next on-stage performance, several years later, was at the Emerson Theatre in Boston. I was a dancing Palm Tree.
That was my final acting role.
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