Last night we had the after show talkback where the audience gets to ask us questions about the show, our process, our lines, whatever they want to ask. Talkbacks are always uncomfortable for me. I do theatre because I get to lose myself in a person other than myself. Talking about how I did that, why I made the choices I did, who I am in real life is always terrifying. I babble through answers. I try funny responses that fall flat. I sit there, grinning like an idiot who just got candy when the reality is I’m about to die. It’s an awesome thing to see.
Last night wasn’t much better for me with the grinning but the discussion was nothing like the normal talkbacks in my past. Not once did someone ask us about our lines – which is good. We have been getting them all out but telling folks that’s been an issue with us isn’t always a good way to start things. No, last night’s discussion was about the play and the question of Faith.
Now, Religion is always one of those topics I try to stay away from. I was raised by an Atheist with very clear opinions on ‘believing in invisible beings.” She didn’t drill this into our heads as kids. She didn’t ever say, “This is what I think so you should think the same.” She has let us both explore whatever it is we want to believe and whomever it is we want to believe in.
That’s not to say Mom can’t argue a flea off the back of a dog, just that she didn’t try to with us. So Faith, Religion, God have all been topics that require a quick change in conversation in my house, in my life, preferably to a funny story involving someone falling down.
I expected last night to be a form of fighting – with polite words, hushed responses and solid walls of Right and Wrong.
Led by a former professor, responses about Faith from the Rabbi and the Pastor and a few of the audience were fascinating. And I learned.
I’m not going to recap what was said. It would just end up convoluted here on the page, garbled by my impressions and my imperfect memory. Suffice to say, the questions of Faith, the myths in Religion, the mystical being that folks believe is their God, and the journey with Faith taken by our characters were all touched on lightly and courteously. The participants were respectful and passionate and funny. I was, of course, awkward, smiley and uncomfortable. I made a few jokes that fell flat and I babbled and babbled and babbled but I learned. And I came away from the night with a new understanding of people and Faith.
Now if everyone in the world, in their own families even, could sit and listen and share and discuss their Faith and beliefs the way we did last night, this world would be a better place. I’d even be willing to tell a few awkward stories to help things along.
The Rabbi shared a wonderful phrase with me. ‘A miracle is anything that happens at a time that is needed.’ In a world where people are killing for no reason or for stupid reasons or for righteous reasons, we could really use a miracle. I’m pretty sure even Mom can get behind that.
I have a friend who joked about the steps it takes to send out a birthday or thank you card.
1. Think about getting the card.
2. Remember to get it when you’re in the store BEFORE you get to check out
3. Find the card in whatever safe place you put it in your house before the birthday
4. Write something meaningful and deep
5. Find the address AND write it on the card
6. Find a stamp AND put it on the card
7. Mail it. Preferably before the birthday or just after the event
We both seem to manage all the steps at some point during the year up until the last three steps. I usually get caught up on step three; never find the card until long after the birthday or event when it’s no longer appropriate to send good wishes or thanks.
I’m full of good intentions and no follow through.
Saturday I went to a birthday party for two-year-old twins. Yesterday – WEDNESDAY - I received a thank you card for my attendance and gifts. The twin’s mom - I’ll call her Mary - is remarkably organized and totally on top of all the social niceties. I don’t know how she does it. She’s the mom of two-year-old twins for goodness sake! All I know is that in the short while I’ve known Mary, I’ve received thank you cards for all manner of things that I’ve done. And I’m not that nice! She’s THAT awesome and together. As they might say here in the South, “Her mother raised her right.” (And yes, I did say/think that in an exaggerated southern accent.)
Mary’s not the only one. I have another friend who sends me little silly card and gifts randomly throughout the year. And another who will text me a happy thought of waffles and conversation or send a gift that reminds me of her when I smell the clean bright smell of lemons. And last week, I received THREE lovely bouquets of flowers and a plant for my show opening. I know good people. People whose folks “raised them right.”
My mother raised me right too. I know the steps that should follow receiving a gift, the gracious words to write. I have the stamps, the cards, and the pens… I just don’t seem to have the follow through needed to get the card into the mailbox.
I’m not sure if this is a slight rebellion to all the years we had to write thank you cards to the invisible cousins and aunts who sent us the Christmas boxes of things we ‘needed’. A direct revolt to the card countless cards I wrote that read, ‘Thank you for the pare of underware. Now everything I ware will be new.” (Misspelling intentional there, folks.) I don't know if it's that embarrassment or if it’s my current mutiny on the ‘I should…’ list that peppers my days; I should vacuum. I should finish that script. I should eat more green things. I should stop cussing. I should be nicer to Husband...
I don’t know what it is that keeps my good intentions in a drawer, stamp-less and address-less. I do know is that every card I get from Mary or whomever just fills me with a little bit of light, a bouncing joy that peppers my day with happy thoughts. And I want to do that for others. I want to put a smile on a face. I want to add some sunshine to a gloomy mood.
So today I dedicate myself to my ‘I Will…’ list. Today I WILL find the cards, the pens, and the stamps and, somehow find the words and I WILL send off some lightness and love in the post to folks I love…
Okay, I WILL at least think about doing it and then berate myself when it doesn’t get done.
That’s a step up from yesterday. And I’m all about steps – even if they don’t lead anywhere useful.
I forget sometimes to follow up with a story or post. I forget that you might care what happened to the thing that happened with the Tigger the Dog or the Husband or the Mom. Or the play. I got a lot of questions about the play this week. About how it was going. About whether we actually memorized all those lines. About how I feel to be doing something my Grandmother did almost twenty years ago. So a brief emotional recap -
The play goes... well, let me use the Mom’s opening night comment here. After the show, I came out into the lobby, she pulled me close for a side hug – see, my not hugging is hereditary – and she said, “It’s better than you thought it was.” And that statement, that matter of fact response is why I love her.
We have chatted more about the play over the last few days. She’s said more about moments that happened on stage but that statement is really the most truthful, the most succinct one that I’ve heard. And it was more useful to me than Husband’s terse, “It was good.” I can’t do a thing with that comment. I can’t obsess over that one late at night. Does he not know me at all? Um... yeah he does.
Now, the lines… there is a moment in an audience talk back where, without fail, someone will ask us how we learned all those lines. I usually don’t have a great answer. I usually let one of the other cast members answer. But, then again, I usually haven’t been in this play. This time, when asked, my comeback will be. “We haven’t.” And then I’ll laugh and laugh.
It’s not true, you see. We have memorized all the lines. We just don’t always get them in the order they’re supposed to come out in. Or, like my performance last Saturday night, they come out all mushy and in bursts of a strange form of Tourette’s. Or we get so overcome by emotion and we just point and yell nonsenses at each other. (But that might have just been me last night.) It does make for a very exciting show. It does mean that we are awake and alert on stage the whole time. It does mean that our teamwork is tight and we are doing what we can to get each other though the literal darkness and into the light. And that’s a good thing, right?
I am enjoying doing a play my Grandmother did years ago. Though, ‘enjoying’ isn’t really the right word. It has been an emotional rollercoaster. I have loved, absolutely LOVED knowing that I’m in the same boat, same emotional space she once was. I am sad that we couldn’t have done this one together. I’m thrilled to have had moments when I felt she was with me, cheering me on, pulling me through the rough patches. It’s been a bonding experience with the Mom that I didn’t expect to have that I treasure. So, how am I enjoying doing a play my Grandmother done? I am completely and utterly relishing it – when I’m not freaking out and forgetting where we are in the script, that is.
Every production has its good and its bad; you like this person, don’t care for that one. You hate your costume but you love your wig. You love the cast but hate the play or you character or the staging or something. There is always something that’s great and something that drives you absolutely nuts. Someone once said to me, when I was complaining about how much a show was driving me mental, “In three weeks, it’ll be over.”
That is the best thing and the worst thing about theatre, at some point it will be over. At some point, you put on the costume for the final time, yell those lines one last time, avoid stepping in the blood on the stage as you take that final bow one last time. It is totally bitter sweet but it is what makes theatre so visceral, so personal, that it is temporary.
“How is the play going?” It is going well, and in five days it will be over. And that will be a bad thing and a good thing and a sad thing.
This one will stick with me for a long while.
Most times, it’s hard for me to leave the house without having to go back for keys or grocery lists or phone. Most times I’m early so my five or six trips back to get that “Oh, I forgot my…” don’t really make me late. And, most times, I’m the one with the deadline so I’m the only one bothered if I’m late.
Yesterday, the Mom and I had a plan. It wasn’t a complicated plan. We just wanted to be at Home Depot right as they opened. We were on time (ish) for that plan to happen and then I made the mistake of looking out the window. And I saw baby Owl eating his breakfast and the plan literally went out the window as we gave up on HD and just watched out the window for hours.
We got to see all three babies hunting for breakfast; Groucho attempting to catch breakfast and then playing hide and seek from us in the fort. Zeppo, patiently sitting in a tree, then somewhat patiently sitting on the roof of the fort and then finally hop-flying down onto chipmunk breakfast, which he missed. And Harpo pecking and pulling pieces of his dead beast, gobbling them down and then looking around to make sure no one was looking. All the while as they were watched over by the sibs from last year who seemed to be cheering them on by giving us the sink eye from the tree branches.
I could go on and on and on about the viewing party. It was VERY exciting and I have tons of blurry shots but I'll stop and leave you with this - there are five Owls in this shot. FIVE! Two of them were totally hidden by tree leaves but the babies were out in the open, looking for breakfast or just watching us watch them. Happy Owl-do hunting!
Husband calls me the questionnaire because I have the audacity to ask questions about his choices during projects. Or when he’s driving. Or just because.
I’ve been fired from many a Lovely Assistant job by him because he didn’t have the time or inclination to answer the questions I’d posed. Usually after he’s yelled at me about my inability to just stand there and hold the stupid thing I’m supposed to hold and why don’t I just trust him and know he’s already planned the whole thing out and the time he’s taking to answer the questions is eating into the project time and if he weren’t answering them, we’d be done and could I just get out of here and go away? GO AWAY!
After ten years together - nine years of marriage, seven years of questions during our first house remodel and a year an a half of questions on this house remodel - I’ve been replaced as Lovely Assistant by his friend, Sam (Not his real name. I don't want it to get out that he's useful and lose him.). Sam because, and I quote, “Sam is the perfect assistant. Sam doesn’t ask questions.” And he’s right. Sam doesn’t ask questions. Sam just does what Husband says no matter how bizarre the assignment might be. Sam just chats about this and that and follows Husband wherever Husband wanders to and holds whatever Husband tells him to hold for as long as he tells him to hold it with a smile on his face and not an ounce of bitter judgement.
I love Sam but not as much as Husband loves Sam.
Saturday, the Mom and I were hanging out on the couch talking about possible gardening projects. I mentioned the pile of bricks we could turn into a path as long as we saved a few for the upcoming Kitchen Deck project.
MOM: What is the brick for?
ME: At some point, we’re going to tear down the kitchen deck, the one falling down the hill, and build a new one. The bricks are to put on the sides to match the house.
What followed was more than FIFTEEN minutes of questions from the Mom about the Kitchen Deck project; How were we building the deck? Why we were using the brick to face it? What we’d be walking on? Why we were rebuilding it? What were we making the floor out of? Why? What was holding up the floor? Why the cinder block? Why the brick? What were we going to do with the space under the deck? How would we access it? Why would we do it that way? Why the deck in the first place? Why? Why? Why?
Until I screamed at her that this stupid project wasn’t happening for years and years and it was almost a hundred percent likely that someone else was going to build it, IF it did indeed get built in the first place and that it really didn’t matter what we were going to do with the brick years from now or how the floor was going to be held up because we’d been talking about a stupid path made out of bricks and that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore… and then I fired her from the conversation.
My name is ej. I'm a girl. I say that because with the short hair and the short initials, folks aren't always sure. More brilliant insights to who I am in About me