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Donna Reed Disease

30 Oct

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Am in desperate need of a vacation.  

Somewhere not here.  

…Not where paperwork and same-routine waits at my office desk.  A place where phones don’t ring, or even exist.  

…I need a break from the depression of sitting on my couch for hours on end streaming Netflix until two a.m., and not taking showers on weekends till show call. I need a place with fresh air and detox facials…with yoga stretching, and books…with no beach bods in bikinis reminding me how horribly out of shape I am. 

…Also, no children.

And it needs to be virtually free.  

…If you google all these qualifications, you come up with a few pilgrimage monasteries and not much else.  But I hate dirt.  And road trips. And camping.  
I’m a sucky pilgrim. 

…Not as bad as the ones who swapped smallpox blankets for Indian corn…(I have morals)…but I can admit my limits.

Thing is, I’m still depressed from “Rita” closing.  I miss the work it took, the challenge, the journey.  “Dial M” is like being in a radio show with costume changes. I go home afterwards, tired and depressed from doing nothing but crying…because it’s all I’m scriptually allowed to do. Ten or twelve different ways. And then I go home and drink while chanting, “suck it up, you have a job, other people don’t.”  

I wish I could do that.  

…Instead, I’ve contracted Donna Reed Disease.

Donna Reed the PERSON was one of the first women executives in television history.  She launched her own production company, siting lack of roles being shopped her way, even after winning an Oscar four years previously… proceeding to then create her own vehicle to star in, which ran for 8 seasons.  

…But nobody knows that part.  

You say “Donna Reed” and everyone immediately thinks of the stepford-like perfection of 1950’s housewife: subservient to her husband, dutiful to her children, vacuuming the carpets in high heels and circle-skirts, with a full five course home-cooked meal on the table… greeting hubby at the door in formal wear with a cocktail in hand, every evening by five.

I love the 50’s…don’t get me wrong.  But after playing a lot of back-to-back ball-buster women in a row…I have never, until now, been so keenly aware of the backslide in women’s lib, post-40’s.

The 1940’s were my years.  

…Women tossed off the housedress and went to work and fucking OWNED it.  Cuz they had to…cuz they could.  Cuz War happens.  Then the War ended and the fellas came back and womanity backslid about 5 paces, right off the bat.  Again, because they had to…because PTSD’s are fucked up…and the women respectfully backed off to help heal and encourage the fellas to find their footing again.  

…But they bowed down and backed off so far, it became the social equivalent of going from Egyptian pyramid-building with full septic systems, to log-cabins with outhouses.  It was an entire decade of backtracking so hard we became virtually a sex of soap opera stars: melodramatic damsels in distress, consumed in Barbie doll perfections.  

…This should not be new to me.  The concept isn’t, but fighting this script to find SOMETHING to do with this role, became nothing more than a frustration of limitation.  You can only serve the script as writ.  I came in hoping for that 40’s Noir dame of awesome, whose seen some things, done some things, and knows some things…a woman of the world. None of which is written, nor supportable in this text. 

…She is a flat-out victim.  Written as a flat-out victim.  At every man’s whim to either destroy or save her.

I’m a pretty damn capable actor who can sniff out good dirt just about anywhere…but when there is none, there is nothing you can do.  

…But cry.

…As many different ways as you can.

…Then disappear for 20 – 30 pages at a time, and come back to cry some more.

It is frustrating.

…It’s a job. I’m thankful to have something. I’m trying to enjoy it.  To at least gain some level of cathartic channeling from a bad day in it or something.

…But it doesn’t work.

Donna Reed Disease.

There’s a lot more here of wasted wealth…and no one will see it or give a shit. And it bothers me.  I said it.

…In the end: I’m not good at being the “just-stand-there-and-look-helpless-and-pretty” character. I don’t do any one of those things good enough to fulfill my artistic needs.

…But what I DO get (thankfully) is a cast and crew of great people.  The fellas are hilarious and dandy drinking buds, and if I’m pressed to admit it: I kinda do really like that blue dress in scene one. Even if it is girl-clothes. 

Also: the murder scene doesn’t suck.  So there’s that.

…Which is why I think, most of all, I just really need a vacation right now.  Followed by some kind of steak-sized role to dig into, directly after.

“Hedda Gabler” for Christmas, anyone???

~D

 
 

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One Response to “Donna Reed Disease”

  1. eric November 1, 2014 at 3:03 am #

    Keep me posted, have always wanted to play Judge Brack. “Well, Hedda, next comes the scandal…”

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