November 28, 2012

No Shame November -- Theatre

Man, I've been putting this one off.  I have no idea how to talk about theatre without this being an incredibly long and only-interesting-to-other-theatre-people post.  I'll try really really hard to make sense and be fairly succinct.

I will always remember my very first theatre audition (school doesn't count for me, because we just did One Act Play, and we just kinda signed up for it and the teacher put us in the roles she thought we'd be best in...even if that meant you were backstage pressing play on the tape player).  It was for The Sound of Music at Denton Community Theatre, and I was in the 6th grade.  I stood on the stage, squeeeeeeezed my eyes shut, and sang "Edelweiss" with my eyes closed the entire time.

I wasn't cast.  Obviously. 

Quick side note -- I am quite close now with the woman who directed that very production, and I recently reminded her of that story and she laughed and laughed.  I've come a bit more out of my shell since that audition.

Since then, I've been in over 20-something productions, from ensemble chorus member to bit part to leading role and from volunteer community theatre to grassroots, guerilla theatre company to a regional, professional stage (that was not in order of importance, by the way; just in order of when I did them, really). 

Theatre has been the best and worst part of my life since I started.  "Worst" seems a bit dramatic, so let me rephrase and say that it has had the potential (and has sometimes achieved) to bring out the worst parts of me and my character.  My vanity.  My need for validation. My selfishness. Even those of us who do it just for the love of the art and not as a career choice still feel fiercely competitive and want the roles we want.  We also want good reviews.  We're obsessive and one-track-minded.

Here's the part where I'd really like to talk about how theatre can also provide a very false sense of closeness with others (friends and showmances) that can end up really hurting you and your other relationships, but I feel like I've talked about that before and that's not what I want this post to be about.  I want this post to be about the things about theatre I LOVE.

So, starting with the Mandy now, who has worked very hard to try to achieve a balance between her personal/professional life and her theatre life so that the former is never prioritized lower than the latter, and who has gotten much choosier about her projects (and will have to continue to be once the babe is born) is a quick, bulleted list about theatre in my own life:

  • Theatre has given me incredible confidence.
  • I've had some of the most amazing theatre experiences just in the past year, because I've branched out and stepped outside my comfort zone.
  • Café des Artistes, Dog Sees God and The Glass Menagerie did more for me as an actor than anything I did pre-2011. Because of my directors, my fellow actors, and my own willingness to be 100% vulnerable.
  • I don't think I'm a great actor...but I'm a thoughtful actor. I know my backgrounds and my subtexts and I make good decisions.
  • I think I'm very easy to direct.  I don't think this has always been true, but I think I can say, with confidence, that I am now.
  • I LOVE directing, which is a fairly new realization. I think I'm a potentially very good director. I just need more opportunities.
  • I think I'll be a better director than actor.
  • I think I'm a really good singer, but that I relied on that for way too long, when I could've really been working on my acting.
  • I've met a lot of really fun people, but only a handful of truly amazing, lifelong friends.  Finding out the difference between the two was (and is) hard.
  • I've had some amazing teachers/mentors/directors who have taught me so much.
  • I intend to direct a musical in 2014 with my husband as musical director and the Babymonster as the official show cheerleader/groupie.
  • I believe I was created to do create.  I like how that sounds: Created to Create.
  • You can be a Christian, a good wife, and a good person and a good friend and still do theatre. It's hard, but it can be done.
  • I love seeing good theatre.  This doesn't actually happen as often as I'd like.
  • I hope that theatre and performance and art are always a huge part of my life and our family.  I met my husband at an audition, after all, and I think it's been fated all along. 
  • I'm working on writing/developing a script.
  • If you want to create, do it. I'm working with a group of actors to put together a staged reading of a play we all love, but have no current options of auditioning for it locally. Make art happen.

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, 2010 (Muriel)

Snoopy, the Musical, 2011 (Peppermint Patty)

Dog Sees God, 2012 (Van's Sister)

Café des Artistes, 2011 (Actor/Writer/Collaborator)

Clipped, 2012 (Director)

The Most Happy Fella, 2012 (Ensemble)

Show Boat, 2004 (Ellie May Chipley)

The Producers, 2010 (Ulla)

Oklahoma!, 2012 (Ensemble)

The Glass Menagerie, 2011 (Laura Wingfield)


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