This is my entry into Shafali’s Story telling carnival;
To boldly go…..
The director’s voice carried sharply over the clatter of the set and the cast seemed to slump at the word.
“OK, everyone, take five. It’s looking good!”
Most of the cast shuffled off in search of doughnuts, coffee and in at least one case, a double vodka, but Jemima stayed put, happily ensconced in the captain’s chair. Unwilling to leave a place it had taken her so long to reach, even for a much needed break, she shifted her posture and let her body relax. Her role required that she sit with ramrod straightness but the rigid plastic moulding of the chair meant her tail-bone would be rubbed raw if she didn’t shift a little. She considered asking for a cushion but it wasn’t something her character would use, so perhaps it would be refused.
It had taken so long to get here, in so many ways. So many miles, so many bitter disappointments and let-downs too. She would have graduated top of her class at stage school were it not for the prejudice of the tutors.
“To put it bluntly my dear,” said the principal. “For a woman, actual acting ability makes no odds at this age. It’s all about looks. And yours, well, what can I say?”
She had hidden her tears and soldiered onwards, taking on role after role that typecast her as ugly and evil. Often the only work she could find was as an extra in horror movies. Landing her first speaking part (and in “Lord of the Rings”, too) was a triumph; but it was tempered by the bitterness of knowing she’d so wanted to play an Elf, or a Hobbit at the least. The make-up girl had carelessly remarked she liked “doing” Jemima as she didn’t need quite so much make up or prosthetics to fit her for her role as Orc as many of the others did.
Of course it was only a matter of time before she moved into sci-fi. The beautiful bimbos who couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag would have brief and scantily clad roles and then vanished once their looks lost their freshness. But character actors like herself flourished as they just improved with age and experience. In this film, her character had sufficient screen time and lines to count as a major character and for the first time her name would be up their in the credits as Co-star. Hmmm….Co-staring Jemima Riddick. It sounded great to be up there with the big names and not lost in the small print at the tail end of the credits.
The make-up was itching and her prosthetic ears were burning her real ones; the glue was sometimes a serious irritant to sensitive skins like hers. But that was a small price to pay. Other roles had required that she shave her head and she’d been glad to be able to have her own hair and not even a wig for this one.
To tell the truth, she was amused at once again playing an evil villain. It was hysterically funny that human beings still equated beauty with goodness and ugliness with evil, or it might have been had not this misconception led to tragedy on grand scales. The witch hunts for example had claimed vast numbers of females whose only crime was to be old and unattractive. She was so glad she had not been here then; there had been progress of sorts in the intervening centuries.
In her last report she’d said so too, but had also added that it was still so far from the kind of world her people would ever wish to work with.
“Perhaps another five or so hundred years,” she’d written at the end.
In the meantime, she’d grown rather fond of this barbarous little planet and had elected to stay a little longer and see it progress. Her acting career was really starting to blossom and unlike her colleagues who’d worked here during the witch-hunt era she faced nothing worse that ridicule and obscurity if she failed completely.
One day these naked apes would grow up enough to understand that what was inside a person was what mattered, not the exterior, and in the meantime she intended to enjoy the many innocent pleasures this little planet offered. That included the art of film-making and she intended to make her mark on this world and show the folks back home what a gal from the wrong end of the nebula could do with a bit of time and patience, not to mention hard work and persistence.
Of course, she could have chosen a more pleasing exterior to start with; there had been plenty in the catalogue. It had been done many times in the past and humans had dubbed them angels or gods, worshipped them briefly and then more or less disregarded them. This way was longer and harder, for sure, but she and her people were in no real hurry. Unlike Penelope Cruz, she had all the time in the world; back home she was barely considered adult yet. It was very much the thing, doing a gap year working with the under-privileged and disadvantaged.
The cast were mooching back onto set and Jemima snapped her spine back to it’s correct stance and waited for the director’s orders.
Inwardly, Jemima smiled and twisted her face into its trademark scowl and started barking out orders to her crew. If only they knew how a starship was really run….!