Holy Orders & More

6 Aug

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Callbacks this weekend. The theatre was booked, so we moved to the alternative space. 

Let not the irony escape you, that for at least two of the theatre’s in the area, the “alternative space” is a Church. 

…Historically speaking, whores and actors have been categorized together as equal opportunity offenders to these conservative numbers…(only possibly outdone by actors playing whores), since the beginning of time. Together, (or apart) they may say they accept you as one or both such members of humanity walking through their doors…but you better believe they’re gonna do their damndest to make sure when you walk out again, all that “nonsense” has been wiped clean, and you will be a fully functioning contributor to society once again.

…Unless you’re Lutheran or Unitarian I guess.  Cuz they sorta specialize in the, “whatever works for you,” category. Which is super rare. I know.  I’ve grown up in a whole lotta churches.  This one time?  I even wanted to make it a semi-calling.

…I was like five, and my Dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.

“A Nun and Actress!”

This tiny alteration to my otherwise lifelong goal, was a bi-product of having just discovered “The Sound of Music,” (of course.) It, never-the-less,  freaked him the fuck out.  As a student of Catholic Parochial Schools, I think he actually preferred the route I went. Which is only barely the lesser of two evils. At least this way, my “sins against humanity” would only involve making an ass of myself, with a possible last-minute repeal for my soul when the time has come. After all, I wouldn’t REALLY spend my life killing people, stealing their husbands and generally whoreing around…only “pretending” to.  This was better than a career of morbid servitude, beating children with rulers due to strict patriarchal demands and personal sexual frustrations.

…It’s “something,” and one should take what one can get.  Meanwhile, Mom found it hilarious and still likes to tell it as an anecdote at parties.

It was a short lived dream.

Despite the teachings of Julie Andrews (and Rogers and Hammerstein), a person cannot be both these things, sadly. (I’m sorry, it had to be said.)  At some point, this dawned on me. About the time I realized that raising seven step-children would prob’ly suck,  and I’d never actually “fly”, like Sally Field. This all directly coincided, by the way, with my first viewing of Audrey Hepburn’s “The Nun’s Story,”  wherein I was shown quite frankly that a life of almost total obedient silence, and floor scrubbing, in head-to-toe black polyester in the Congo, prob’ly wasn’t gonna allow for much stage time.  Clearly one of ’em would have to go…which is why I am not in Orders today. 

Also: I’m not Catholic.  And, they frown on cussing.

…Sadly, the “celibacy” bit, isn’t the issue…

…Anyway…where I was going with this was: Actors in a church are like one of the most outstanding “wrongs” you can imagine.  Especially when they are plying their trade.  Even if the offenders are “of faith” themselves…(obviously belonging to one of the less restrictive sects), and use their “powers” for good, not evil.  Since I belong to no sect, have my own “deal” with the powers that be, and play a revolving, reoccurring set of baddies, bimbos, bitches and ne’er-do-wells every time I pick up a script…it sorta freaks me out a bit to exercise it all in a place I was taught as far back as I can remember, is “Holy.” 

Also, it’s confusing.  Because I think of theatre almost exactly the same way…which some might call “heresy,” but I just call, “human truth.”

Either way you cook it…the entire experience can just get weird.

…Try doing Mamet in a Church foyer, for instance (been there.) Or play a lesbian putting the moves on someone’s wife, in the Sunday School room (done that.) Or murder a man in cold blood (yep), or ride a dude’s leg while he grapples your boob within three feet of the main sanctuary (achieved.)  Surround yourself with people screaming “Heil Hitler!” (on tour even.) Damn people to hell (check), ruin their marriages (several times), sell your body to the highest bidder (even for beer)…and swill booze in a pub while singing the raunchiest lyrics you can wink at (done, done, and yep.) These are things that might (to some) seem just a little disturbing…and not only to the people who aren’t participating in the events, believe me.  Which just means: when you walk into the building and know you have to do the things you’re gonna have to do in it…you sorta have to divorce yourself almost immediately from the restrictions of reality or you will never win, rehearse or conquer a role, pretty much ever again.

…I don’t know what that means in the mainframe of things…after all…it is only a “building” when you get right down to it. We don’t actually MEAN to “defile” it with our baser-humanity instincts and involvements (sometimes put to song.)  All I know is, this weekend I realized (for the first time) the double irony of it all.

…Think about it: Once upon a time (for about a week and a half), I wanted to be an Actor and a Nun.

And I am.

…Total, dedicated, penniless, servitude…as my calling requires…reaching out to humanity as a whole, without discrimination, in complete observance of all rulings sent down from my betters, as practiced within the walls of the Holy Church.

…Even the celibacy bit: still works.

…Which is all to say: “Look Ma! I made it!”

I’m sure she’s just proud as hell right now.

~D

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