Busy Busy Theatre Bee

Though I’ve been quiet on here, I’ve been busy. It’s funny how creative things seem to spawn more creative things.

I’ve had a ridiculous number of offers and invitations to audition, participate in a reading of a new play to be presented to a professional theatre company, participate in a staged reading of Macbeth (as Macduff!), to be in a show later this summer . . . even an offer of a role that I had to turn down because of other theatre conflicts.

Being in a position to turn down a role sounds like a pretty fantastic humble-brag – especially when even getting cast just doesn’t happen much – but it’s stupidly stressful.

It’s been more than a little frenetic when I stop to think about it, so I try not to. But I’ve made new friends and new theatre connections. We’ll see where they take me! And it’s also an amazing ego boost to be offered so many opportunities.

At the most frantic point, I did three auditions in a week and a half. Because that’s what everyone does when four months pregnant. (At least first trimester exhaustion had relaxed its grip by then.) One of those an open call for a professional theatre, which is something that has terrified me.

The experience was absolutely terrifying. But now that I’ve done it once, maybe it won’t intimidate me so much to try it again.

It doesn’t feel possible that all this has happened in the span of three months. While attempting to negotiate the reality of a first pregnancy.

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Mixing Extremes

Saturday was crazy! An awesome sort of crazy, even if it totally kicked my ass. (Yeah, it did.)

My day started with a workshop. A local theatre offers occasional master classes, and that day they held an audition boot camp. Which was exactly as advertised. Intense and amazing, and I was more than a little discouraged when I left.

I chose Puck’s final monologue in Midsummer Night’s Dream because I’ve had it memorized since my sophomore year of high school and I’ve always adored the character of Puck.

You know how plans and intentions in your head tend to fall apart when you go to carry them out? Yeah, that’s pretty much how this went. And up on a stage, in front of a roomful of people is not how I would have chosen to find out that I still have a whole bunch of hangups and fears in relation to physicality.

I was terrible. No, really, I was.

If I make it out when the theatre has its next open audition call, that is not a monologue I will use. Puck is what I would like to achieve as an actor, but I am not there.

To get there, I have to learn how to get out of my head and into my body.

Then immediately after the class, I drove out to a video shoot. (As I said: crazy day!) A local aspiring filmmaker needed actors for a montage. Two takes and I was done, and it might amount to ten seconds of screen time if it doesn’t end up on the cutting room floor. But for less than an hour, including just waiting and gabbing, I got paid almost as much as a full day at the day job.

The best part is that now I can say I’ve been paid for acting. So that’s a milestone.

Burning Out

I can feel it coming. Burnout tends to follow theatre shows, anyway, and the current one has the longest commute of any to date. So of course this hits when we’re barely halfway through.

At least it’s good to know what my limits are. Unless I’m extremely passionate about a show, I likely won’t do this commute again. Not with a full-time day job, anyway.

I was going to audition for another show – one much closer – but the thought of going made me want to curl up in a corner and hide.

Not a good way to start anything. So I didn’t go.

Tonight, the weather is keeping me home. These winds are the kind that down trees and power lines, and driving over an hour home through that late at night when I’m exhausted? I’d rather not.

An extra evening to cross items off my to do list is priceless, at this point, so I don’t feel as guilty over missing rehearsal as I might otherwise.

Pretty soon, I’m headed out of town. Flying to Florida and back, then immediately turning around and driving to southern Massachusetts and back. In the span of a week.

Just what am I doing to myself?

I’ve been trying to cram in time to see friends and family around this trip, and rehearsals, and the day job, but it took last weekend’s shut-down – this inability to force myself to go to an audition – to tell me I’m burning out.

Typical.

Definitely time for a break. Whether or not this crazy, travel-intensive week coming up will be the right kind of break remains to be seen.

Wish me luck!

New Play Festival

In addition to the overflow of ideas in September, some bizarre part of me thought it would be an excellent idea to sign up for the 24 Hour New Play Festival.

As a writer.

This is how it works: a group of awesomely insane people get together on a Friday night and split into teams of writer/director/actors. We had a few hours of ice breakers and improv games – teams getting to know each other and writers desperately scrambling for ideas. (Or maybe that was just me.) A professional playwright came out to workshop ideas with the writers.

I got home at 10:30pm – after getting up at 5am for a long day of work – made myself some caffeine, and sat down to write a play. 1:30am I stumbled into bed, to get up less than five hours later and read it over before emailing it by our deadline.

It was still a rough draft when I sent it out.

After that, the directors took over, with some input from the writers. The shows went onstage before an audience at 7pm.

My group was amazing. And, hey, it was recorded, so you should totally go watch them be wonderful.

The Devil’s Puppet Show

Oh, Internet. I have so much to tell you! Potential theatre-related opportunities are cropping up in the strangest (and best) of places. They may amount to nothing, but just the experience of trying will be priceless.

Dracula has been insanely popular. Even our “slow” nights draw decently sized audiences. An iconic story like Dracula performed in a haunted mid-nineteenth century stone fort? Yes. Just, yes.

(It also helps that we’ve had some rather fantastic reviews.)

I can’t quite believe we only have two more performances.

Something I find hilarious: we’ve been nicknamed the Devil’s Puppet Show. And that’s meant seriously. Apparently, by folks who don’t know the story. It makes me laugh. A lot.

My Massachusetts-based sister drove up to surprise me at last night’s show. I figured it out ahead of time because neither she nor our grandmother can lie or misdirect to save her life. Not to me, anyway. When Gram wouldn’t say whom she was meeting at the show, I had a suspicion. When I mentioned the mystery to my sister, she did a lovely brick wall impression. As she does when she doesn’t know what to say or do.

There are some drawbacks to reading people well, but that didn’t diminish how awesome it was to see her when we got to the fort.

And after the show, hanging out with some of the cast, I ended up voluntold into a karaoke rendition of Cell Block Tango. Even Dracula sang karaoke. It was amazing.

How have you been?

Why I Haven’t Posted

Confidence. Once upon a time, I had none.

High school theatre helped. It gave me the courage to explore, to try on different personas until I found a combination that fit right. College for me was more about the people and the experience than the academics. Funny, since I went so deeply in debt for it.

But much as I loved theatre in high school, I didn’t pursue it after. I knew the limits of my talent: I was dedicated, but mediocre. I wasn’t confident enough in myself to get out of my own head.

I auditioned for a couple shows in college and was cut each time. I would stare at the theatre class descriptions in the course catalog, but only signed up for one in my senior year.

 

Only a few years ago did I start auditioning for community theatre productions. And I was cut. A lot.

I managed to get a part as Cecily in a staged reading of the Importance of Being Ernest. Not many auditioned. That was in 2011.

Then last summer, I got an ensemble role in Julius Caesar. A few months later, I ended up in what might be the most challenging role I will ever play as the governess in Turn of the Screw: a two-person show with a scant month to learn all my lines. For 90 minutes, I never left the stage. It was dark, and intense, and wonderful. I still can’t quite believe I did it.

After that? I auditioned for another show. And got cut. (There’s a metaphor for writer rejection somewhere in here.) I was ecstatic to make the ensemble for Dracula.

Then about a month into rehearsals and a month before opening night, I got a call from the director. One of the actresses had to drop out for personal reasons, and would I be willing to play Mina?

I have been buzzing. This cast is amazing and awesomely talented, and I can’t quite believe that I have this opportunity.

Even if opening night is only two and a half weeks away.

And that is why I haven’t posted lately.

Refilling the Well

Oh, WordPress. It’s discouraging when you eat my drafts.

The Husband keeps suggesting that I draft in another program. He’s smart like that. I have yet to take his advice. Oh, well.

I intended to write a post about my trip to NYC. Because it was amazing.

I was going to write about the amazing people I met when I got into random conversations with strangers. This after a conversation on how difficult that skill is to develop in a big city like New York. In some ways, it makes me appreciate living in a small town.

My grandmother still cackles to tell the story of how, when I was three or four, I was scandalized by the fact that she talked to a stranger. We were in line at the grocery store. (I was an unfortunately serious child, and painfully shy.)

So glad I’ve outgrown that and have now developed “talking to strangers” as a skill. People are fascinating, and I love to hear their stories.

And even before fantastic conversations with strangers, my friend took me to see Sleep No More. I know; it’s been playing since 2011, but I’d never heard of it. One of the many drawbacks to living in rural Maine.

Imagine Macbeth set in the 20s, where the audience isn’t separated from the performance by a stage, but becomes wholly immersed in it, to the point of becoming part of the show. It was beautiful and haunting, set in an old hotel that I half-recognized from nightmares. But the audience was truly the creepiest part.

I would see it again in a heartbeat, and it’s had my brain going ever since, imagining other shows that could be done in a similarly immersive and unsettling style.

In the last week, I’ve been writing more, which is a nice change from the past few months. So the New York trip was awesome and necessary. (But it’s nice to be back home with the Husband.)