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We Were Rehearsing A Play
"Oh, hey. We're rehearsing a - a scene for the upcoming company play called uh, Put That Thing Back Where It Came From Or So Help Me!. It's a musical."

Two characters are caught in the middle of doing something they do not want others to know about, like talking openly about the Masquerade, fighting among each other or making out. Since the situation is blatantly obvious, the only option is to claim that it was all just an act. Probably for a School Play.

Bonus points if this gets taken so far that the play actually ends up being written.

A subtrope of Blatant Lies. Compare Hurricane of Excuses. Compare It's for a Book. See also All Part of the Show, Film Felons.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga  
  • In one scene of Agent Aika Zero, some of the bad guys appear to be rehearsing Hamlet in the background, giving them an excuse to move around with openly bared weaponary against the hero. (Anyone familiar with the play would know there's something different about the lines...)

    Comic Books 
  • In Dramacon Derek says it at the beginning at a customer who caught Chris and him arguing.

    Fan Fic 

    Film 
  • The Monsters, Inc. example gets taken to extremes — there's another instance played straight in the movie ("She's Out of our Hair"), and the DVD includes a feature showing the staging of the musical, and excerpts from several scenes.
  • Men In Black. Agent K is interrogating Frank the Pug (an alien in the form of a dog) while holding him.
    Agent K: Rosenberg mentioned Orion's belt. What did he mean?
    Frank: Beats me.
    Agent K: Beats you? [Starts shaking Frank around]
    Frank: [Starts yelping]
    Agent J: [To a passerby] They're rehearsing a ventriloquist act.
  • Moulin Rouge!. Gets taken so far that said play ends up actually being written.
  • Ginger Snaps has a related example, when the girls, unable to clean up the place of a fatal accident quickly enough, mask it as the scenography for their morbid photographic art.

    Live Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Rehearsing a play" tends to be used if a Muggle catches the heroes talking about demons and monsters.
  • Friends:
    Chandler: Hey, you kissed my Mom.
    Ross: We're rehearsing a Greek play.
  • The inversion also appears in Blackadder the Third, where it's set up by a Running Gag about how Prince George can't tell the difference between theater and real life.
  • The Mash episode "Hey, Doc" did the inversion with Radar and Klinger. One was proposing to the other.
  • Inverted on I Love Lucy, too. One episode, Lucy suspected new residents in a neighboring apartment of being Soviet spies, and while snooping around in their apartment, she winds up hiding in the closet when they return and hears them discussing plans about executing an important espionage mission for a communist agenda. Lucy freaks out, calls the police, at the episode's conclusion, it turns out that Lucy's new neighbors are actors who were reciting their lines for a play. In a large part, this was a Take That from Desi Arnaz, a Cuban, who, with wife Lucy, were both suspected of being communists in Real Life by... the FBI.
  • This happened in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Time's Arrow part II".
  • In an episode of Cheers, Woody is in a play, but is afraid that his girlfriend Kelly won't approve. He hides it from her, but she eventually walks in on him practicing a kiss with his co-star. Kelly runs from the room crying. "You're in a play and you didn't even tell me!"
  • Played with on Neighbours: Ruth walks in on Amy and Lance in the midst of what appears to be a bitter breakup. They tell her they're rehearsing for a play. In actuality, they're rehearsing for a public breakup, staged so that Amy can get back in with her former best friend Jacinta, who she suspects of framing Lance and getting him suspended.
  • At least once in Quantum Leap, Sam uses "I'm an actor practicing my lines" as an excuse when someone catches him talking to the Invisible to Normals Al.
  • In Soap, when Sally is making a scene in a diner because Burt told her that the two of them can't be together, this is Burt's excuse.
  • Played with in The Wild Wild West episode "The Night of the Turncoat." A public disturbance involving the main characters is explained away by one of them as a scene from a play which their "troupe" has come to perform in the town. While technically untrue, in actual fact the whole thing was staged by the main characters as part of a larger infiltration plot.

    Web Comics 
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • A pizza delivery boy walks in on Male!Susan and Male!Nanase discussing skirts, and transformed Tedd tried to explain it away. The problem is, this guy's also the head of the student council in Tedd's school. Okay, not a big problem...
    • Later, when Ellen and Nanase are caught kissing by Nanase's "Scary Homophobic Mother", Ellen claims "We're rehearsing a play about CPR!"

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Inverted in one episode where Homer was heard shouting, "I'm going to kill you" in an angry tone, and Marge thought he had snapped. It turned out that Homer and Bart are rehearsing for a play, and Homer was just reading the play's title, I'm Going To Kill You, aloud.
    • Which gets double inverted: seconds later, Homer appears to be reading from the play and says "Professor Van Doren — so good to see you." Then Professor Van Doren appears in the doorway and says "Ah, rehearsing a play, I see."
    • Another Simpsons episode has Bart getting paranoid about a series of threatening letters from Sideshow Bob. One scene (part of a montage of similar Bait and Switch comments) has Mrs Krabappel telling Bart, "You're going to be my murder victim, Bart - in our school production of Lizzie Borden, starring Martin Prince as Lizzy."
    • The trope is mentioned in the episode where Bart sees Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel making out at a party. Skinner tries to convince Bart that he (Bart) just imagined it, prompting Bart to say "That's the best you can do? You could have at least said that you were giving her CPR or rehearsing a play!". Skinner then asks if it's too late to say that.

    Video Games 
  • During a task in Grand Theft Auto IV, Niko has the job description described to him, in a roundabout, not really implicating way, in a car that his employer's other agent (the man explaining the job) thinks may have listening devices in it. Niko then bluntly sums up the assignment to be sure he understood, leading his co-worker to quickly state, for the benefit of anyone listening, that he does not really know Niko, and that they are rehearsing for a night school drama class they attend together.


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