Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Eye Will Survive!

posted by Eric Pargac at 4:24 PM
My eye two days after an accident on stage during An Impending Rupture of the Belly.

So for the second production in a row here at Furious Theatre Company, I have had a pretty intense, play-related eye problem. On Friday 13th of this last week toward the end of An Impending Rupture of the Belly, in which I play Clay Stilts, my character trashes the stage. There are several large City of Pasadena trash bins that I throw around in an effort to get the attention of my neighbor. As I slammed one of these trash bins to the ground the lid flew open and nailed me, full-force, in the left eye. The impact was pretty intense due to a rather perfect storm of events. The lid was at the exact top of its swing as my body was coming down over it, so since the lid was attached to the trash bin there was absolutely no give when it caught the corner of my eye socket. I got both the force of my body coming down and the swinging lid all in one big wallop.

From the reports of Shawn Lee, who plays my brother in the production and was on stage with me at the time, my knees buckled and I staggered back a few steps. I stood for a second trying to shake off the blow thinking, "Well, I know I have a monologue here that I'm supposed to do, but I'm not sure I can remember it." I just decided to plow ahead. I'm pretty sure I dropped a few lines and made up a new one or two new ones, but I didn't stop. At some point I felt a warm sensation on my face and was worried I might be bleeding, so I reached up to make sure everything was okay. When I did, my hand stopped at least an inch before it should have because my eye had almost instantly swollen to about the size of half a golf ball. My main concern was to keep the audience from realizing I'd been hurt and being taken out of the play. I tried to keep the left side of my face away from the audience as I launched into a huge fight scene. It's quite and intense fight, which I won't spoil here, but I'll just say it involves some rather large sporting equipment clashing together at high, dangerous speeds. Somehow I made it through. I kept checking for blood, and noticed all the crew in the wings was gathering to peek on stage to see the injury. After the fight there is only one scene left, at which point I was hoping the audience would think I'd done some sort of amazing quick change into some crazy swollen eye makeup.

At curtain call, I smiled bigger than I've ever smiled because I still didn't want the audience to know what had happened. Reports from those in the audience that had seen the show before and from the booth were that it was one of the best endings we'd had to the play. I heard that there were whispers of, "The lead guy just got hurt," but apparently not everyone knew. The playwright was in the audience and didn't notice (nor did he notice that I forgot parts of my monologue), and the people in the booth running lights and sound didn't notice either.

The picture above was taken three days after the accident on Monday so it actually looked worse than that on Saturday when Variety was in the audience. In fact, it looked so bad that there wasn't much I could do to cover it up. Luckily, in part of the storyline for the play, my character has recently been attacked in a random act of violence, so we were able to just go with the fact that the attack happened sooner than we were originally playing. I heard from a few long time Furious fans, though, that they were surprised that we had such a "fake looking makeup job." And according to the Variety review, they were none the wiser.

My eye after a rather massive allergic reaction to my scar makeup in Grace.
(Note: both injuries are the left eye, but this was taken from my web cam which flops the image.)

As for my other eye problem, during our last play, Grace, I played Sam a disfigured NASA scientist, who lost half his face in a car accident that took his girlfriends life. For that play, I had to build a scar on the left side of my face. You can read about the development of that on the blog at the The Scar entry and Sam's Scar 2. Well, half way through the production I developed an intense allergic reaction to the latex I used to help seal the scar to my face. My eye was irritated slightly after the fourth Thursday of the run. I woke up on Friday and it had really swollen so I went to the doctor. I explained about the makeup and let him know I would need to keep using it because we had several weeks left of the production. He gave me some antibiotics and allergy medication and told me to come back if it didn't get better by Monday. Well, it didn't, in fact it was so bad on Monday when I got to his office that my doctor almost admitted me to the hospital for emergency care. After a second opinion from a fellow doctor who shares the same office, he prescribed an industrial strength steroid and told my to call him immediately if it gets worse, and return if the swelling doesn't go down. Luckily, it didn't get worse, and I had a few days to recover since we weren't back on stage till Thursday. I continued to do the play till the end of the run. The irritation continued, but the medication kept the flare ups under control.

Well, those are my two back-to-back eye stories. Feel free to laugh at my pain, but for the sake of my eye, BE FURIOUS.


Blogger mintradz said...

Torn retinas are the most common type of injuries acquired through that type of incident. Also, there are quite serious types of eye damage due to physical activities and accidents from sharp materials/elements. Arizona optometrist Dorothy V. says that frequent eye injury may lead into instant unexpected blindness. I think you should be more careful about these eye problems.

1:06 AM  

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