“Lost is a place.”

It’s been four weeks of class in my graduate program in San Diego (eight weeks since I moved). I’ve been living in this completely different (and certainly beautiful) world. Flowers bloom year-round; windows are thin and left open to the whims of the weather (being that often the worst that will happen is a light ten-minute rain, or a heavy dew.)

I spent just shy of nine years in Chicago. I got my undergraduate degree there (a distinction I’m not used to having to make), and then I stayed, wooed by the city and the potential of the art I could make there. There were ups and downs; some pretty great highs, and oh, dear God, some pretty low lows. I became frustrated and jaded, delighted and cynical, wiser, older, a wee chubbier. I spent a lot of nights questioning and making some pretty hardcore mistakes; I shoved in a ton of joy, good times, and moments full of absolute glee and companionship.

Along the way, I became someone who writes. My best friend died, suddenly, awfully; my world fell apart. As I figured out how to reassemble it (and replace the too-damaged pieces), I discovered that baring my soul just a little helped.

I loved Chicago with a fierce zeal, bravely, defensively, deliciously.

And then my life hit another series of hiccups, and I blundered some more, and suddenly the world I had engineered and so lovely felt suffocating. I just couldn’t breathe. I felt as if I couldn’t turn without running into everything I’d screwed up; as if the city were now echoes of the chances I’d fucked over, the weaknesses I’d left grow into faults, the laziness and frustration that had wormed its way into the work that brought me happiness. I really didn’t know what to do; I felt trapped. This was the only place I’d ever loved . . . . what now?

Fast forward ten months. Here I am, ensconced in SoCal; living off of my students loans, driving a little bug to school every day. It’s been four weeks of yoga and vocal journals, movement and play-reading, rehearsing and auditioning and such a foreign focus that I’d nearly forgotten it. I’m developing a tendency to drop my shoulders at the mention of the word ‘release’; I can’t sing in the car without trying to find the buzz in my sinuses. Everything we’re doing, with all of our teachers, is designed to make us aware and vulnerable; sometimes it makes me feel so fragile it’s as if I’ll break. I breathe deep in my belly, exhale as directed, and something releases in me; suddenly my heart aches and my eyes well with tears and I know I’ve just gotta take another breath and try to ride this.

I’ve been thinking, a lot, about how I’ve written less and less since the year after Amanda died. I think it comes down to a few things; one, that my grief for her was simple, and pure, and that I didn’t have to worry about offending her or anyone else. As Elliott Smith so wonderfully said, “Situations get fucked up, and turned around sooner or later”, and I never wanted to write about something honestly that might make the frustration  in my life grow, or be used a weapon. But also – secondly – I know that I just couldn’t bear to be so vulnerable again.

Being a writer, being an artist, being an actor; creating anything, in fact, for the world to see; these are all such naked acts. Sometimes . . . it’s just kinda hard, you know?

In any case. These past few weeks of introspection, analysis, examination – I think we’re all reeling, on different levels, from the vulnerability required to do this. And to do it well, and do it right, and do it justice;  I have in front of me (we do in front of us) the opportunity to grow in a way that’s wildly generous. I want to show up for it. I want to do it well.

The final piece of my struggle is the knowledge in my heart that I’m probably not going back to Chicago. This program encourages work on a level that I’ve worked hard to reach; when I’m done, I’m not sure I’ll have enough options in Chicago to make my life there a chance of ‘giving it all you got’.

When I got to San Diego, and started class, I had a minor meltdown. (I’m pretty sure it was normal, and expected.) One of the things I said, tearfully, on the phone to my mom, was “But no one knows who I am! I don’t know who I am!” Without my friends, without my career, or family, or history? Who am I, anyway? How I define myself as everything I know about me is changing?

For a brief moment in time? I literally don’t know where I am, and I don’t know where I’m going.

So. Finding the courage to move forward, and be vulnerable, without the security of knowing anything about where home will be? I think that’s the challenge right now.

But as our most wonderfully voice teacher said; “hey . . . . lost is a place.”

I don’t know where I’m going. But I’ll get there.

sundays

Sundays in San Diego are developing a leisurely pattern; an AM visit to the Farmer’s Market, followed by an afternoon spent preparing my spoils for the week. I prop up my laptop on some of the precious counter space of my galley kitchen, and find something on Hulu+ to keep me entertained while dicing mango and quartering strawberries, hacking up broccoli and slicing cucumber, and packing everything into tupperware for the week.

Usually, I’ve neglected to keep up with cleaning, so a flurry of dishwashing starts the process, and it’s followed by microwaving or cooking whatever I’ve planned for meals that week. (Two weeks back, I absent-mindly stirred spaghetti while plowing  my way through Mother Courage, my copy of which is now spattered with tomato stains).

Today, I’d made it a mission to get started on my back porch garden; baby succulents were $1.35 apiece, and for the price of 10 they’d throw in two for free to make up a dozen. After my dish and dice extravaganza, I took out the trash and headed over to the hardware store, where I picked up a bag of cactus-friendly potting soil, and made a quick stopover at the nearest-by thrift store, where I added a few more 50-cent mugs to my collection. I dragged it all home, chatting to my mother along the way, and used the last of the daylight to transfer everything. Here are the fruits of my labor:

I know they really need more drainage than a closed cup can provide . . . but I’m hoping that since they’ll get most of their moisture from dew, this might work out.

As I walked back and forth from place to place, I took a couple shots of my surroundings:

And as it got dark, I snapped this too:

Now I’ll sit back with some pumpkin ale, read M. Butterfly, and try to bend my mind around the errands for tomorrow (memorizing lines, taking some paperwork to financial aid, maybe getting a haircut or finally getting around to the laundry. . . . )

So . . .

. . . here I am.

Two months ago, I packed everything I owned into boxes. I dropped by my agent’s office with a dozen roses, I stocked up on Chicago beer, and I spent several fantastic last nights drinking with the people I’d found in my nearly-decade on the lake.

Then I left the city behind in my rearview mirror.

I’ve been in sunny San Diego now for seven weeks; in school for little under a month. It’s sunny all the time, and there are canyons, hills, and an abundance of foreign flowers. The landscape is littered with freeways and donut shops, palm trees and In-And-Outs, and parallel parking and giant-bug-coping are newfound life-skills.

This week, in our hour-break between class and rehearsal, one of my professors asked me in passing, “so, are you glad you came?”

And when I thought about it, I realized .  . . I’m already different.

This was a luckier break than I realized . . . but then again . . . it all has been.

So. Here I am. Negotiating my way from Chicago actress to my So-Cal life.

 

last night

we were on the train coming back from our second-to-last week, leaning fatiguedly on Mary’s bike, chatting – with the weight of being back into the show on us  – and we looked at eachother and said, “What are we going to do when it’s over?”

It was nice to share our despair.

notes (as we settle in)

– it’s such a strange and funny reality doing a play; more and more, as you run it, your ability to be wholly present in the actual room and the imaginary room coincide (what’s really happening vs. all the pretend history and reality you bring onstage with you; I am really in this space with these two people, I am not really in 1816 in Geneva as a sixteen-year-old girl). Looking around you never ceases to engage; there’s always something more specific to discover, a person in the midst of a moment your character hasn’t deemed important until now, the subtle shift of someone else’s moment.

– that there’s little better than the experience of a feeling taking you by surprise; by focussing your attention on the moment in front of you and suddenly finding your lip trembling, your shoulders shaking, or your hands and arms drawing forward in excitement and glee; that the thrill of being an actor is worth every struggling moment offstage when you look for the idea that will activate you today, and you discover onstage that you’ve built the right on-ramp into the scene when you don’t have to do anything but listen to be affected. (bliss).

–  that something as simple as a high-five or a fist-bump can restore you to a calm and sunny reality.

– that I’m always more vulnerable when someone I love who believes in me is in the audience.

– that the day I say goodbye to my family, my performance is always more fraught with aloneness.

– time and shows slip through your fingers and moments pass you by, and there’s no rewinding; especially when you love everything about a project as much as I’ve enjoyed this.

– that the moment something goes terribly wrong can be thrilling – like having sex in public or lying to someone’s face – can we pull this off? Are we clever enough to get away with this? And feeling that we are.

– that even if you can’t stand the idea of the life-long hustle, the frequent starvation and famine, the constant search for work, the inadequate reward, the demeaning and difficult circuit to audition-audition-audition while knowing that you are the only person who is responsible for your belief that you are of value, there is something so unbelievably gorgeous about the entire day living in its pull towards the theatre that night, and to be a person who could live this life (get up, have coffee, do some background reading on the play, watch a little television, engage with the world, clean the house, lounge with the cat, work a little on the business side of the business (mailings or meetings) and then go to the theatre at night?) – would be the best goddamn beautiful life in this goddamn beautiful world.

– breathing, breathing, thinking, and breathing more, and imagining the next three weeks to come. And then trying to cope with the idea that this will end.

guess who forgot to check her props last night?

Nothing like being onstage and realizing that nothing may be where it ought.

And now you’re just gonna have to roll with it.

(huzzah for awesome stage management team who had just about everything in place.)

the rabbit hole.

And so, we opened.

Thursday was a busy beautiful blur of nerves and excitement; double-checking props, striding about the space speaking my favorite Shakespeare, jostling around the dressing room jumping on one foot or the other, shaking out hands and legs and killing three minutes til go-time; a brief and fast group warmup to get us buzzed for the first fifteen minutes of the play (which needs to be launched like a rocket); and then the final high fives and fist bumps and deep breaths-to-exhale-anxiety that happens when the stage lights go out and the backstage bluelight is the only thing you can see and you feel your body start moving forward and oh-my-god-it’s-happening-now.

The right opening night crowd is better than any other you’ll ever have; responsive, loud, funny, listening, generous, supportive. (And almost every time you forget this, and think ‘oh god, it will always be like this!’ – and it pretty much never is.) And did we ever have the right crowd – laughs and laughs, quiet intent silences, and my favorite payoff at the very end of the play with a series of gasps at one truly horrific line (and therefore, a brief suspension of the moment to give the audience time to catch up.)

It’s tricky and marvelous, throwing the audience into the soup we’ve been cooking; it’s the final ingrediant, of course, and the basis and the foundation. The split focus between the people out there and the people in here is key to being an actor. (Duh, right?) And I’ve not had a play in recent memory where it has been so easy to forget there are people beyond our two walls, while at the same time, we’re listening to them constantly (should we hold this moment, should we power on, am I being loud enough and clear enough and using my text well? I love my words but everyone tells me I’m a mumbler and am I engaging my diaphram and pbbbbbbt I just totally dropped that line and oh shit I should be paying attention to what just happened over there across the stage . . . . and it goes on).

By yesterday, we’d been doing the play nonstop (well, one stop, our day off Sunday) for around 18 days.

Running the play is always a different beast than opening it; and opening it was almost entirely joyful.  There’s always the second-night crash; “oh, the house is about a third of the size” “oh, they’re so quiet” “oh, wow, that’s right, we actually have to just do this sucker over and over” – and especially from opening, coupled with the fatigue of the cumultative tech days, (and potentially a hangover from your opening festivities) – opening weekend is a beautiful blessing, and also a reminder that the ship’s now launched and we’ve got to navigate the entire journey piece by piece. (There’s no autopilot for theatre.)

I love running a show; I love how everything deepens; how by the end of the second weekend, you’ve often sick of all the choices you’ve made, and start finding new ones (within the realm of the frame you’ve built); by the third weekend you fall in love with it all over again. I love how certain moments become cherishable. I love about this play that I enjoy something in every scene; that I try not to get too attached to any moment (a sure-fire way to overthink it and make it a mess), but that I’m still swimming through building it, piece by piece. I love pieces of text winnow their way into your mind and give you joy each time you hear or overhear them (“the glimmer of the half-extinguished light” “how one word can mean so much” “I was wrong”); I love the feeling alive that doesn’t happen for me anywhere but onstage.

And yet? Running a play is also a trip down the rabbit hole.

When I was in high school, I did, back to back, a very, very serious and beautiful play about a cancer patient – followed by Guys and Dolls. I didn’t notice a difference in myself, but my mother has commented, often, and a little with wonder “You are so quiet during the play; we’d never seen you so quiet; and then so bubbly and happy during the musical.” It was the first time I realized that of course, of course, the story you were telling every day would have an effect on your life as you told it.

Certain energies get depleted, or replenished. When I did the Greek tragedy, I spent much of my time alone; I’d walk two or three miles a day in the bitter Chicago cold, needing my personal space and distance from the world. I’ve been so often cast as the martyr that I’m actually very comfortable dealing with the fallout of constant sadness and destruction; I’ve found a way through that one, after trial and error; and the second time I did the play, I was (at the same moment) working on a daytime children’s Shakespeare show, so the two counterbalanced eachother.

There’s always an adjustment. During No Exit, I felt smothered by everything and as if I would never, ever get enough sleep; I still speak to and appreciate both of the actors who were stuck in the room with me (both of them are sharp and intelligent and good folk), but our bond was forged by loving and hating that stupid red room where we were trapped eight hours a week. There’s always an adjustment; there’s always fallout.

And so, as we go into running this bear, I’m noticing I’m gonna need some rituals for this one.

Part of the joy of being cast in this show for me, besides the subject matter/cast/director/location/quality of the play/everything, really, was that I’d finally be playing someone different than my usual martyr. I’d be a girl who was partially an agent of her own destruction; I spend the majority of the play being irritated and irritating.

One of my acting teachers – my favorite, actually – has always insisted on the use of the first person when describing your character. I bought into this wholly – “I’m behaving this way, I’m feeling this, I want this” rather than “she does” – and I only now, seventeen shows into my career, am realizing that perhaps this is too powerful for me.

I knew going into this play that it would be something of a rabbit hole; that I’d have to be vigilant about keeping myself apart from my character. That playing a woman whose entire identity and self was based on others wasn’t so foreign, but having it manifest itself in this loud and aggressive manner; this could be dangerous.

It’s such a weird thing walking around with a character inside you. It’s almost schizophrenic; you can find your responses altered, your patience changed, your instincts variable. Amy Morton once said “your body doesn’t know you’re lying”, and it’s so strangely true; that doing the play is like going through a really bad breakup, or a car crash, or a family disaster every night for weeks and weeks and weeks. Starting again at ground zero; erasing the knowledge you’ve gained every night; this becomes both easier and harder as you know the play more. And even as your brain trusts and loves the people you play with, your body starts to betray you, finding it harder to cling to someone having known that in two hours, you’ll be sobbing at their feet.

Unlearning – part of that illusion of first time – just part of the bag of trickery of being an actor.

And I’m trying, very often, these days, to leave every piece of baggage offstage. By this I mean to not cling to a moment, or try and stay in a state throughout the performance; but to merely focus on the action as it’s happening, to be in the room, and to relax and assume that everything’s going to be there. The less you think about a moment and the more you just do it, the better. The less intellectualizing and the more action, the better.

All that said – my freshman acting teacher opened our class once by saying “No one’s a good actor til they’re thirty.” She meant of course that we don’t have enough life experience to know things before thirty; that we can’t necessarily understand, and grasp the weight and complexity of things, of being human, until we’ve lived a little more than eighteen. (And naturally at the time I bristled and preened a little, and naturally, now, I understand, and agree.)

(And thank god I have four more years to figure it out.)

(This is part of my reticience about being a mom. You can’t have a two year old and be emotionally volatile, or absent for two months a year. You can’t be unable to keep a steady keel. )

Annnnnnnnd so.

All this beating around the bush? Is to support that I almost lost my shit this weekend.

By Saturday’s show, I was tired, and harried (like everyone), and seething with irritation (unlike everyone.) I had to remove myself to the greenroom for a while, I was so frustrated and annoyed. I knew, logically, in the back of my brain, that this was all silly and that I was being ridiculous, but I felt so overwhelmed with fury that I had trouble keeping any sort of a lid on it. I paced around the green room, listened to my most soothing music, and did my best to keep myself away from everybody, knowing that my bile wasn’t actually their fault, and that I didn’t want to be a complete asshole. And then it was places, and down the rabbit hole we tumbled, and spewing it out onstage – it felt wholesome, and good. By the end of the play I was able to look people in the eye again.

I felt ashamed, and annoyed, and furious with myself. “You can’t BE like this”, I kept repeating, reminding myself that I hate being someone who’s difficult to work with.  That this is my whole life-long ambition; and I’ve got to find a way to be a person I like and am happy with, and still do work I’m proud of.

In the same way that when you fall in love with someone onstage, you always love them a little bit in the real life (you’ll carry a slight affection for them forever), or when you play sisters or brothers opposite someone, you’ll find a familiar connection for every moment (my show sisters remain people I feel comfortable confiding in no matter how long our time apart), when you repeat and repeat an action with someone, like any relationship, it permeates your reality with them.

The adjustment, then, is in finding how to remind your body, who doesn’t know, what’s real and what’s pretend.

I don’t have an answer to all of this yet. But three days off helps. (Even last night, I felt myself loosening up, letting go of the bitterness, shedding the fear; a few of the  fancy cocktails I was consuming probably didn’t hurt)

It hasn’t changed that I still love this play. (/cast/production/experience/etc).

I’m just going to have to find the path through it that lets me keep the love and discard the dragging anchors.

(and major props to the ladies dressing room for their tentative kindnesses and hugs at intermission. Apologies, as ever, for being nuts. 🙂

another openin’

I don’t sleep well the night before – except I do, because I’m so exhausted. This is normal – par for the course – especially working in a theatre so far from home.

I get up the next day and run in circles like a puppy – not from excitement so much from “do I have everything I need?” I raid the fridge for dinner (last night’s leftover half-burrito) and make a mental note that I have got to pick up cat litter. The house is a mess – I’ve been getting home after midnight, crashing, and out the door before 8:30 – and I know the roommates’ collective patience must be running thin, but I’ll have to clean this Saturday, as it’ll be the first time I’ve been home and conscious for more than twenty minutes.

I’m skittering out the door, on the way to work – I read the whole train ride (one of my favorite comforting books) and show up, still exhausted, at work, which is fortunately quiet.

I’m full of jangling nerves. I keep nibbling at my burrito and then throwing it back down, too full of nervous stomach to take a full bite. I go over everything in my head; when I’ll get to the theatre, the performance of rituals, which is still not set (when will I curl my hair, do my makeup, check my props, warm up physically; catch up with the rest of the cast, make the connection; will there be time for a fifteen-minute-shut-eye (I could use it sooooooo badly)).

I’m saved in the morning by my co-worker’s homegrown spearmint leaves, brewed into tea; the loveliest of all surprises. I gossip with the director online, both purposefully talking about things other than the show; I post one nervous facebook update after another. My mother sends me a lovely email (“You’re an actor! I’m proud of you!”) and I grin.

Last night’s tech was not an entirely unmitigated disaster – but certainly not the smooth and sunny affair we might have hoped – and we’re all still adjusting to being in such a larger space after rehearsing in our comfy close quarters. Vocally, we’re still working on reaching the back of the house, and we’ve only just nailed the beginning down (so we’re full of nervous anticipation about starting off this rocket.) A host of other small calamities happened too; nothing we can’t fix, or address, but it definitely shook us  up as an ensemble.

I’ve spent the week working on my little cast gifts, planning goodies for the director and playwright, gathering odds and ends I’ll need. We’ve spent months developing these people, walking around eachother, hammering and chiseling away at tricky scenes. We love this.  We love eachother. We’re thrilled to be here.

And so many friends and well wishers are attending our (sold out!) opening night  – which is thrilling, of course – and we’re hoping for laughs, and sighs – and we’re terrified of the quiet house (last night, we got the note to be asking for the butter, not the laugh – a story that basically means, “don’t know you’re funny” – which of course always makes me neurotic about being funny (don’t think about this moment! thinking ruins it!))

I wish for five more hours of sleep. I wish we’d never open but always rehearse and explore, where it’s safe to be wrong. I wish I’d taken far more care over my lines (I’m sure I learned half of them wrong.) I wish I could remember all my props. I wish I’d never been an actor in the first place, what’s wrong with being a dramatic-loving accountant who never gets scared?

The whole day is one long rush of anticipation and adrenaline, hope and fear, and wondering if I can build the machine just right to knock myself out emotionally in the middle of the second act. (Though it’s more like a Jenga tower in reverse; how do I build this just right to collapse at JUST this one removed support?)

Oh, the theatre.

And I exhale, and check the clock for the umpteenth time, and tick off all my errands in my head – and off we go.

(and secretly? we live for this moment.)

(if it doesn’t kill us.)

“. . . .oh, yo ho ho”

Yesterday, I woke up slowly and luxuriously.

This was unexpected. We’d been scheduled for tech all through the weekend; and while I was delighted to have the day off (and felt it was needed and necessary, to take a day break before the week of opening, to breathe, to get some air in the real world to rejuvenate and a little space from everyone so the car ride didn’t turn sour), I marveled at how suddenly I was naked without the show. “What? A whole . . . day? Twenty-four HOURS without . . .  really? Really?”

It was a beautiful sunny Sunday (well, the first time I woke, it was overcast; but the sun came out by my second rising), and I had absolutely not a clue what to do with the time. There was cleaning to be done, the mailing to work on; plenty of options; I thought about a movie; but without my beloved play, I was lost. (Like being in a very exclusive relationship with someone, you can tell when you need a little of your own time and space (for the good of you both) but you feel immediately adrift when faced with said time.)

Doing what I know best to do when adrift, I found a place that required me, and picked up a shift at my retail job.

So as the afternoon moved into sunnier and beautiful, I threw on grownup clothes, ran a brush through my hair and headed downtown, accompanied by a bag of the odds and ends I’d forgotten to the space earlier, for dropoff.

So my lazy leisure afternoon found me at the cash register, smiling at strangers, making small talk, and so full of genuine felicity that I didn’t even mind. (Unlike my usual frustrations).

One mother and daughter pair caught my attention; they were buying a marvelous expensive teapot, and quietly and privately squabbling over who was going to pay for it. “Well, write it down in your check register, then, because I’ll just give you less money for laundry.” “But you said-” “Yes, well, I was going to give you $50 for laundry, but instead I’ll give you $10.” – classic, as I recall it, “You are newly independent and if you are choosing to throw away $60 on this I cannot stop you.” countering with “This is my brand new life and my brand new chance to build it with the things I find beautiful.”
In their lovely familiar squabble I heard the dropped name of my alma mater, and inquired. “Oh yes, I’m starting the Performing Arts school. The theatre program.” And I grinned as I reached for butcher paper to wrap the china and said, “Class of ’06”.

They were delighted – in the exact same way my mother and I would have been, if you’d rewound us eight years into the same situation.

We gossiped and chatted, and I gave her information about my show, and promised to say hello when I came to speak to her Introduction to Professional Theatre class (they have alumni day, so you can ask questions about being a working actor from people who’ve been sitting in your exact seats.)

I closed up the shop, grabbed a few discount goodies, and headed home in a rush to meet my friend Molly – she and I were traveling together – and split from there to get to the theatre bar, where said “Class of ’06” was gathering for the first official time since our post-showcase-party at The Full Shilling four years and three months before.

I can still remember the terror and anticipation of moving to Chicago. The cool feeling and blue light of September, when I started to feel activated and at home. The pit of fear in my stomach at failing in my acting class. The way the sun came through the windows of our vertical campus, the view from our seventh-floor-classroom window. I remember the world opening up wide in front of me like suddenly all walls were made of glass and I could see in so many directions and need only pick where to go.

It was heartening and marvelous to see everyone; Molly had brought our showcase headshots, and we got drunk and told stories and exchanged hug after hug, needling eachother about long-existing faults, playfully dishing out the shit. It was warm and comfortable and relaxed and happy; we’re all softly rooting for eachother’s happiness, at ease in the history we share, interested in everyone’s journeys and arrivals.

The eight years of my life since then have taken me down paths I did not expect. I am not famous; I am not brilliant. I am more and more certain that my legacy lies in building, and creating, and not in the mouths of others. I don’t know yet whom I will end up being; and to be honest, when I think to articulate it, I don’t know that I can tack down exactly what I wanted in my eighteen-year-old mind. It’s hard to find the words, other than “blaze of glory.”

But I love the work, and the art. I love the community, and the world we’ve built. I love that in Chicago, I’m not reduced to a size or a face, or a shrill voice, or an ethnic specificity; that my flaws, my loves  and my humanity are valued in my artistry*  just as much as my British accent or my eighteenth-century pink-and-white coloring.   I love that we keep arguing and arguing about the path to good art, and we’ve not yet found it; I love that we are fighting to keep the art of being in a room with other people and telling a story alive in a world that gives us all our entertainment in pixels.

*such as it is.

Finding our feet as people is terrifying. Finding our feet as artists, even more daunting. And I would love to be smug and say I’ve done both, but lies they would be, all lies.

But every September, the sudden bite in the air (that I love) and the change in the path of sunlight over this fair city always starts a wildfire in my heart.

I moved here eight years ago to become this person.

And the circle keeps going.

” . . . oh, an actor’s life for me . . .”

tech.

I love my costumes.

That’s always the fun and glamorous part of tech – getting to see the world come to life, getting to see if what existed in your head turns into reality. And sometimes the most part – looking in the mirror and seeing yourself the character reflected back to you – sometimes you’ll just move differently or take a moment to a different calibration because of the sudden inspiration of “oh” – “this is who this person is, I see it now”.

I love my dresses. (This is a girl who loves dresses, anyway.) (So to love my dresses as my character and as myself is just icing on the cake.) (I wanna wear the white one? all the time.)

I also love the unbidden joy of tech. Tech is when it becomes tirelessly fascinating to watch everyone else’s scenes; suddenly the work you’ve seen a thousand times is fuller, and richer (by value of all of you arriving at the same point, true) – but also by value of you suddenly see the complete picture.

You also love everyone and the play itself most in tech, sometimes. The possibilities are suddenly huge and beautiful.

I love watching from the wings, working on a mailing, going over lines – checking facebook or knitting or any of the other little time-pass/wasters – and suddenly looking up, because what’s before you is so marvelously compelling – or the spontaneous, beautiful moment when you sudden tear up, or smile unbidden, or otherwise simply cannot control your affection for this play. That character moves towards the window and the music swells and the light comes through a certain way and suddenly you see the vision entire.

Tech is, also, though, tech; everyone is on pins, everyone’s still working. Changes are being made and adjustments happening, right left and center. Genius sprouts from the weirdest places, and problems are solved like knocking over haphazard dominos; sometimes things just fall where they need. (Sometimes you can’t figure out how to get that solitary ninepin and you wonder if you’ll ever knock it down. (If you’ll forgive me the mixed metaphors.))

And our great affection for eachother never lessens or wanes, but we do become, all of us, a little rubbed raw; we have just been spending ten straight hours together, after all.

The car-ride metaphor has been particularly apt throughout this process, and it continues to stand; while we’re all so goddamn fucking delighted to be here, we’re also happy to take the day off we were so magically granted tomorrow – it’ll be a good thing to spend a day in the sunshine, away from the stage, away from the harsh choices, away from the niggling doubts (which are, to be fair, growing smaller every moment)(huzzah).

It’s strange though, that three weeks ago the one Sunday off felt too small and naked, and now, it’s this long stretch of twenty-four hours that I need – I need – and time away, which I feel very strongly will only strengthen the Monday attack – and yet, I’m wandering around as if there’s been a collapse of some sort – “what do you mean, we’re not doing the show tomorrow?” – “but – what will I do with my day?”

God, the beauty of theatre. Art period? Creation. It exhausts us and drains us and we give up so much to do it.

But it completes us too.

Goddamn. I love it so much.

Time to visit the real world tomorrow and strengthen the real person I am, to return Monday night and begin hitting those tennis balls back over the strength with passion and fire and a fearless gutsy reckless ballsy abandon.

(I can’t wait for either.)