Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Other Side of Busy

One of my favorite professors in college taught dramatic literature. He would say "drama is the tension between what a character says and does and what they really feel and want." Which means even the most level-headed of people can't truly be free from drama. That's not to suggest it's been a telenovela around here since last I posted, but there has definitely been some struggle beneath the surface as well as actual dramas..and comedies.

The status quo can be difficult for me to accept because the potential for more is always looming around the blurry edges of any mundane moment. I know, I know says the gimpy stay at home mom. Yes, I spent one glorious community theater season finding the old me. It cost my peace of mind, my blood pressure rose, even my ability to ambulate left me more than once, the peace in my household, hours of sleep, gallons of gas and probably countless other things I've forgotten in hindsight, but I did it. I freaking found her! I found the confident, enthusiastic artist I had been so afraid was lost forever. Also, whatever the cost I loved every minute of it. So, tension yes, regrets no.

I still got "it" ladies and gentlemen. Alfre Woodard, the speaker at my college graduation, said something along the lines of "now you've all got your degree. go ahead and pass that to mom, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend whoever because that paper isn't what matters. Trust your training to be there when you need it." Now, I was certain she was right the moment she said it, but hot damn if it didn't hold true all these years later with a giant break from acting and everything! Smart lady.

A scene from "Crimes of the Heart" Sept 2015

Barnette and Babe

Mobility devices and the stage weren't an issue most of my life. If a director thought my gait or lack of balance was an issue I sat down, No biggie. I only had one director insist I use the chair because it gave him "levels." Between you and me I'm pretty sure it just got me on and off faster. These days I'm Dr. House-ing it, I use one cane which I ditch with some frequency. As, I mentioned in a previous post my return to the stage was set in a kitchen so I spent a lot of time at the dining room table. However, more than one person commented that I "flew around that stage" to a degree that they forgot it was me. A) That's awesome B) Being accused of attempted murder tends to light a fire under a gal.

My second show was a horse of a different color because it was mostly a bare stage with chorus risers for the large cast of kiddos. It was funny and fluffy plot-wise, but a big workout physically. I used my cane the whole show except the opening living room scene. My calves burned and my endurance grew. I came down with a terrible upper repertory infection after that one so the post-show exhaustion was elevated to a whole other level.

A scene from "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" Dec 2015

The Fight
It was during the downtime after the illness finally abated that I was seized with panic that my little glimpse at my old self was over and I'd spend the rest of my life folding laundry and icing my swollen ankles after washing dishes. I started trying to convince myself that I should just see those shows as a reminder that it was still possible and let it rest at that. Um, yeah right!

I reached out to the education department because duh, I have a lot of experience teaching theater to kids. Low and behold, they needed help! Not only did I get to assistant direct the kids for three hours on Saturday mornings, but I was allowed to bring Miss Roo. She's a natural on stage, by the way! It was just amazing. A couple hours of creativity and home for a nap. When did I get so old? I think the kids did it to me.

The show went well and I was invited to direct a summer camp musical. A full musical in two weeks! In the weeks between children's shows, I rested up and auditioned for and was offered the lead in the final show of the season. It was a romantic comedy and I was gung-ho to follow in Meg Ryan's footsteps. This one was more complicated than either of the previous two because the director wanted essentially an empty stage. Without the option to stay put very often on what scant furniture there was I debated heavily on using the cane.

Bottom line, was I just didn't want to for this character if it was avoidable. I wanted both hands free. In the end I literally leaned on my co-star for support.  It was a fun role, but it didn't exactly pack the house. Ironically, I've been stopped in public and complimented more on this role then any other! I even got an award nomination. Adrenaline does a good bit for the struggle to be other than oneself while operating a sub-par mode of transport. I had the funniest picture recently of trying to maneuver a bumper car with the sticky steering wheel down a highway. Then again, there are days when bumper car is the way to go! 

A scene from "Prelude to a Kiss" June 2016

Bar Scene

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