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ONSTAGE VOICES offstage noises
by Chris Chase

CONVERSATION WITH AN UNEMPLOYED HORSE

The other day I was talking to a horse who hasn't been able to find acting work. He was still parading the theatre district, having got temporary employment as the lower half of a mounted policeman but he was highly indignant about the situation.

"Take Equus," he said. Parts for six horses. And they don't even have to speak English. Any old cobs could have done it. But no, they get hold of a bunch of humans and put four-inch hooves on their feet, so they look like those pimp shoes you see on Times Square, and they fasten wire and leather cages on their heads, and they let those pitifully tiny human eyes peer out, and they tell you that's horses! And to add insult to injury, the author writes a note in the published edition of the play admonishing future producers that 'any literalism which could suggest the cosy familiarity of a domestic animal . . . should be avoided.' "

The horse snorted. "I don't like to hurt your feelings," he said, "but I have met few actors who could successfully portray a horse. A complete horse. Now and then, an acceptable horse's other end shows up on Broadway, but a whole horse? Forget it!"

He said the animals of the world were going to have to unite against the actors. I said I didn't blame them, that they were, after all, only aping us. English Equity won't let American actors (except for an occasional star) play on English stages, American Equity says it won't let English actors (except for an occasional star) play on American stages (thought they can't prove it by this season), but Animals Equity doesn't even exist. There is no way - at the present time - for the inhabitants of the menagery, the vivarium and the bear-pit to get together and prevent humans from taking all their jobs.

"Yes," the horse said thoughtfully, "A union might be the answer. then we horses could vote 'Neigh;' against you humans, and give you the horse laugh, and you would find snaffling work away from us to be a horse of another color."

He reminded me of the horse in Man of La Mancha. "Two chorus boys in a horse suit," he said. "They did a tap dance, for God's sake. Or a soft shoe dance, or some damn silly kind of a fandango. It held serious horses up to ridicule, it trivialized 'em."

Grease paint was in his blood, he said. "Back before the movies began making spectacles, my great great grandfather was on Broadway in the chariot race from Ben Hur. they put a treadmill on the stage, so the horses could gallop and gallop and stay in the same place, and my ancestor led the crowd. In our family, the old traditions of the stage are everything, when my cousin Trigger went into the movies, his

[[image drawing of a horse with an apple stand marked 25c in front him him]]
Stuart Leeds

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