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Well, Fuck.

10 Nov

 I have succeeded in taking care of myself zero much this week. I’ve only 7 things on my Wonder Wall “Do Me” list, and I’ve only even touched 2. Things like “going to bed earlier” and “getting my walks in” didn’t even *make* the fucking list. Not even, “maybe detox a bit,” after Monday’s post-closing hangover — where I invented almost a mathematical equation of the amount of times you can dehydrate and rehydrate yourself in a given space of one nine-hour work day. (I stopped counting after 8.)
…And that was only on wine…

…Which will tell you how much was probably involved.

You guys, I over extended myself in Every capacity, socially, mentally, lack-of-physically, I’ve had no more than 3 waking hours to myself all week. And I’ve two more things still to do. And I’m going to do them. Because putting anything off at this point is fucking pointless. Damage is already done. 

…So despite every day, walking past my damn living room bar with an almost audible, “Oh, Fuck off,” tonight, I B-lined to it.

I started with the money bar and a sipping shot. Getting wasted might help tonight, but not so much tomorrow. So, I’ll sip on my Buckingham Palace, gold-rimmed shot of Suntory Whisky Toki, and plan my next spoiling. I will taste my way through a night of good stuff and not kill the new elephant-walking neighbor upstairs. 

…I will unload on all of you, then go attempt to read that damn book I keep picking up and can’t focus on. Or maybe I’ll say fuck that, and just lay here waiting for Bud to arrive, listening to the Glenn Miller Pandora channel that I would be getting ready to right now, had the show not wrapped on Sunday.

This is my first week in many, where that wasn’t a thing. Where I wouldn’t be setting my hair right now, and running my lines for the 10,000th time. 

…And in about ten minutes, I’d be in the dressing room, greeting the ladies, popping the music on again, getting into the flow, and trying to pretend I wasn’t nervous as fuck about how very many ways I could (and probably would), screw up tonight. 

…In a few minutes, I’d be laughing despite all that (because: theatre), shoving some awesome Mdm Arcadi baked good in my face, (in lieu of dinner,) sipping on my 6th black coffee for the day, wishing to God it was this whiskey.

 …And despite the fact: it never would be, and despite how terrified I was, I’d still rather be in that room than not in that room.

…Even without the whiskey.

I’m not even well enough to function “generally” and I want back in the the place that freaks me out ten ways to Sunday.

Figures.

Why wouldn’t it be that way?

Why would anything make sense, except my inability to get my damn shit together?

I’m bone-tired. And heart-sad. And super thankful for the team I’m not with tonight, who I would be, if we hadn’t demolished it all to fuck, 5 days ago.

…Also: I need to pick another sipping whiskey.

Except: no, I won’t. The next one is for my Blithe’s.

One Bombay Sapphire, in memory of the yous.

…Love you nerds. Miss yuh like my mental acuity. 

XO and all that,

~D

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I’ll Have What She’s Having

1 Nov

You know how sometimes you are so conflicted, or so hungry, or so PMSey that you think you want a big ol’ plate of this thing over here, but when your buddy’s plate comes to the table, you feel like that was what you should have chosen instead…but then they see that look in your eyes and are all, “Split-share?” (…cuz all your friends are equal foodies), and your taste buds and guts go, “Yeeeesss! Best of both worlds!” and everything is all-the-flavors-of-awesome?

…That is what going to a friend’s show is like. 

…Kinda always super wish you were working with them, but sometimes you just had to try for that other thing over there, instead…cuz of the stuff…and you did, and lots of times its good, but if you somehow have a skewed performance schedule, (or can sneak into a rehearsal of a limited run, like I am tonight), it’s like all the salty, sweet, buttery and garlicy goodness, wrapped up in both life-plates.

So, I’ll be art-eating super good tonight, at one of the final rehearsals, for an already sold-out run, of a dear friend, whose passion and empathy knows no bounds.

Damn, I’m so proud of her, and the team she has collected to create this amazing piece of historical theatre!

Let’s eat!

~D

12 Oct

…I have to think of something else.

My brain has been full of horrible thoughts for far, far too long. It has consumed me entirely. It has stripped me of everything from joy, to my health, to my dignity. And with nothing else to lose, (except, of course there is,  and when you’re me and my brain, we can even itemize them out for you…alphabetically, if you so choose) I sit here in between hour two of what will be a lot more, running lines tubed into my left ear, via my phone headset…during work, with the still dark thoughts absorbing me where they should be concentrating on lines I’ve had to relearn so many times now, that I can’t remember the count.
I’ve failed at a lot of things in life, but this was always the one thing I could count on to be solid. 

Art. 

Theatre.

I’ve always worked my damn ass of to assure that no matter what, I am prepared. I am professional. I am solid. Because I have no other self-identity other then being an actor. It’s what I am. It’s what I do. It’s my purpose. And now it’s failing me too. Or rather, I’m failing it. 

A lot terrifies me. But my “purpose” leaving me, is now officially taking the damn cake. I couldn’t try grasping frantically for some shred of recognition or safety more, if my life depended on it. And it feels very much like it does. Couldn’t pray harder. Couldn’t lose more sleep, push more, plead more, cry more, melt down more. I couldn’t lose more dignity if  every bodily fluid expelled at once, on stage vs the humiliation I put myself through, at last night’s rehearsal.

…Absolutely zero control.

Despite an extremely understanding and totally supportive team, I can’t help but see the inevitable trajectory this shit-fest is taking, and my total inability to stop it…despite all major efforts I am attempting to negate it.

I just closed “Dark” on Sunday, and “Blithe” opens in 8 days. I have never struggled like this for the most basic requirements of doing the job I need to do, on that stage. Never mind the character, I can’t even get grasp on the fucking text. What should be a light and airy word-play of epically brilliant double-entendres, and bitch-bitey exuberance, is a nightmare of impossible-to-recall word specifics that no one uses outside of a Mensa meeting, and broken record of Agatha Christie repetition-hell, of saying the same thing, slightly different and more catty, 13 times, in 15 different monologues, without rest.

Am still very broken from the last show, all but shattered before we’ve even opened this one. And for the first time I am really and truly actually questioning my ability to do this anymore. 

…And if I can’t. What in the flying fuck has it even all been about?

I’m trying to open a show in the middle of my biggest fucking mental breakdown since I’d been diagnosed, in 2009.

… I have to think of something else.

~D

Awake!

17 Sep

It’s 7:02. My body does one of those jolting awake things, like when you’ve forgotten something. I look at my wrist to check the time. The Fitbit is off. I didn’t put it back on again after my post-show shower last night. What an idiot! Check the time. Oh good! Good body-clock! Thank God! 

I get up and put the Fitbit on again, checking the battery, which is severely low. Wow, even with it on, I’d have prob’ly missed the alarm. I’ll charge it at work, I tell myself.

…I lay there checking my Entertainment news, as is my morning practice, and contemplate my tummy’s readiness for its first cup of (what will be many) black coffees today. While streaming news I remind self of rehearsal tonight, lines I’ll need to learn at lunch somehow, and being thankful I made it without a major injury through another week of shows.

…Coffee is made, and consumed, look down at my Fitbit, and sure enough, the alarm didn’t buzz. But I’m up and getting ready for work, none-the-less.

…Then it’s car, commute, so many damn detours from out of nowhere! I text Boss at second one…looks like I’ll be late because of them. I’m circling, I’m on and off-ramping, I’m getting ticked, cuz I’m too damn tired for this, and its a hell of a way to start a Monday.

…I get to work, and am first in. Unlock the crap, prep the stuff…I’m sitting at my desk, jotting to-dos on my idiot pad, when Boss texts me back:

“Um, why you there? It’s Sunday.”

…I open my computer screen.

“Sunday,” it says.

…Sunday. It’s Sunday. 

I’m sitting at my desk, and it’s Sunday.

…It does actually take me that long to understand what is wrong with this and all the things that led to this moment and how I have never ever ever, in my life, so totally lost the sense of time and day before. Not just “a little,” not just for a “moment.” I’m almost two hours into the loss, at this point.

…I pack up. I lock up. I go through the Starbucks for a giant latte and some food to settle my now flip-flopping tummy. 

…Not “suddenly” but even more than a moment ago, I feel like total shit. I was exhausted: now I’m emotionally almost crippled by it. I was cold: now I’m blasting the heat like its winter in Michigan, and still freezing. I was bruised but relieved that I made it through this last weekend of shows: now I’m horrified that I have a matinee still yet to face.

…I try my best not to freak out my Barista with this total overload of emotion, collect my goods, and drive home.

I get into bed, without even bothering to unmake it first. The pillows are taking up all the room, I’m already two cups of black coffee in, even without the latte, so sleep is impossible. It would be anyway. It already has often been, of late.

There is a misnomer that Art is or should be all fun and games. It’s probably great for some people if it is. I prefer it as the icing on a good amount of work. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it sucks the absolute life out of you. And there is some strange unspoken rule that despite what it takes from you, you should be greatful to be a working artist and not mention the toll, or the truth of its impact. I say: that is shit. 

…Art is like anything else. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes it is disappointing as fuck, and frustrating, and insulting, and debilitating. Like anything you love: art has shit days. It *can* have shit months. 

…For me, of late: it has. I have been fully aware of it. I knew it was bad. I didn’t know it was this bad. It’s a new low on the scale. 

I feel…empty. 

I am laying here in bed, too exhausted to cry, I need to save whatever energy I have for a house full of ticket payers. I need to somehow adjust my mood so I won’t infect my fellow cast, who is probably sleeping away right now, blissfully oblivious of the day I’ve already had before they’ve so much as got up for their morning pee. I need to rally presence of mind and focus…of a brain which didn’t know what day it was through two hours of time…so that I don’t do more physical damage to myself than is absolutely necessary out there, in stocking feet, in the dark.

I need to trust.

I don’t have any of that right now.

…And I am very, very, very, very tired.

Obviously.

In every way that I can be.

And that, is my Sunday morning truth.

~D

Open

9 Sep

Awake at 3am. I think asleep again by 5-something. Then again at 6. Then 8. 

…Haven’t slept well in ages. Several reasons, primary of last night being total body and mental exhaustion. 

…You know when you see a toddler, waaay past their nap time, have a total and complete meltdown in the grocery aisle, giving zero shits who the present audience is, or that this is unacceptable behavior–their limbs go limp, they’re sobbing like a family member died right in front of them, and it’s all because they don’t like the “orange kind”? I’m right there. I have no ability to appropriately designate my feelings and trauma. 

…And, my body hurts. Their are muscles that feel shredded, so many ever-changing colors of bruises, that I have no count. I keep stressing my formerly broken finger every night in the fight sequence, so what usually is a dull ache when weather changes, is shooting pains up to my elbow…(last night’s particular pain of choice to wake me.) My back is so tight across the shoulders: you could use it for a helipad.

If one person in the next five weeks, says they think its cute that I have an acting hobby, I’m going to punch them in the face. And in my current mental place: I can’t guarantee it would stop there. 

Of course, I DID sign up for this. And so: it is what it is. Boxers wear *their* sport badges with pride: split lips, broken noses, et al. So, in moments and shows like this, I do too. I do it to remind myself of the gallons of sweat and tears that have hours ago dissipated and been showered off. I do it because each one was earned in commitment to something I love, like the birth pains of a labor. I do it because not every role or show is a frivolous exercise, or a beauty contest…certainly not the ones *I* participate in. I do it because I carry that role with me at least as long as those bruises will show…and sometimes, well after. In an ephemeral artform, it’s the reminder I can look back on, and instantly trigger back to this time and place.

…And in the meantime, before starting rehearsals for “Blithe Spirit,” on Monday, I will use today to nest on the couch. I will stay in pajamas until prep for call. I will watch other people gaining *their* bruises and show-badges on TV. 

…I will self-care, and order delivery. I will cry when I need to, and not if I don’t, and leave my severely overworked contacts, soaking in their case.

I will take a day.

…And then, tonight, I will stretch and fight-call, and suit up again, adding to my growing badge collection.

Cuz, Theatre ain’t for fucking sissies.

~D

First Day On Set

27 Aug

Today we meet our set. Always an exciting time, but I’ve been freaking out about it for days.

…Because not only is it angles and staircases and platforms and sofas and multiple tables…kitchen and laundry appliances…with things like live flame and giant death fights, and practical light sources, which eventually will go down to 2% blues and black…

…I’m doing it all blind. Because my character is.

…So, take you out of the rehearsal room, where touch as marker, how many steps, at what angle, and what texture and size has been accruing in your mind across nearly two months, on a single surface…and put in totally different measure in depth and width, with added levels and stairs, ever revolving new props as they are subbed in from rehearsal to show versions…and keep in mind, you cannot visually mark a damn thing to help you, and know you have nine days on this set to pull it all off by Preview.

Soft-focus is the landed perspective I’m working in. (Like if you spaced out and tried to focus closer while doing it…a kind of duplicate out-of-focusing.) It removes all sharpness to your visuals, and heavily handicaps your peripheral. On top of which you don’t look toward the action or person…your ears are the primary focus, so they can pick up echoes, bounce-back off surfaces that can relate information like a bat uses sonar…explaining room layout, depth, where people are standing, how close another object is, the configuration of a hallways width, a doorway versus as wall, and general movement…etc. 

…Doing all this means that the usual safety standards for actors on set, in blackout, or partial light, aren’t going to help me. Glowtape on the lip of the stairs means fuck-all. Spike tape is meaningless, unless it is in an area I can physically feel with my fingertips. If I place a prop in the scene and it falls, I have to take the time to search it out on hands and knees and restore it, even if mid-fight, mid task of something else, and not depend on someone nearest to cover, or there is no way the character would know where it is for later. It means bruises I’ve already accrued will magnify greatly, as I have to relearn every new angle and movement pattern, forwards and backwards, all over again. The configuration of her movement, in subtly using the furniture in her home to get her from “A” to “B” to “C,” now changes in angle and needs to be relearned and adjusted. It used to take five steps in the rehearsal room to get from here to there, and eight to that place, but now will it take seven, eight, and ten? How do I redistribute my line delivery time to cover that, or do we need to start two lines earlier because now I have an entire staircase to climb?

…How can I be safe? And when they add stage lights to my already halo-like, duplicate-vision, what the hell is that gonna do to impare me even further?

The role has always been on the bucket list…and it’s great work because of how many challenges it throws at you. But this is the moment I have always been most scared of. There is very little anyone can do to help me, and I have a very short learning curve to get a whole hell of a lot dialed in. And it all completely affects the pacing, tension, and presentation of the entire show if I can’t figure it out. 

…So: no pressure or anything.

It’s 10am. I already need a drink.

~D

…Meanwhile: On Stage

23 Jul

“One should always start a bucket-list role, and new job, within one day of each other on the same week,” said no one, ever.

…And yet: due to crazy scheduling for the summer, this is somehow my fourth week of work and end of my first week of rehearsal, with only the initial read going on a head-to-header.

“Wait Until Dark.”

…A classic thriller, period piece, with severe study prep requirement.

I love it.

Much psychological work, even more– physical. A sighted person gone blind, with zero percent light sensitivity, and only within the single year of her rehabilitation, six-months a newlywed, terrorized by three professional thieves and murderers.

Acting: gold. With a lot of room for error.

…Bring it.

This is my favorite. The more specific the limitations, the more specific the work. I’ve a plethora of materials I’m diving into, a list of props I’m constantly working with at home to develop specifics with, a working mental map of the set layout, for movement and point of reference,  many revisits to my severely sight-handicapped Annie Sullivan days, rehabilitation specific of the 60’s offered treatments, and constant focus work…to find the best levels for safety and movement.

…Seventh-freakin-heaven.

…And tonight, finally got to see “Maudie,” bio pic, which I had been salivating over since first seeing the trailer…to study the beautiful, beautiful performance, by Sally Hawkins.

 …Which one might think has absolutely nothing to do with this: yet absolutely does. Tonight I watched it for the art, but I WILL be seeing this piece several times for technique… and revisiting another favorite performance of Marion Cotillard in  “La Vie En Rose,” along with (strangely, “Miracle Worker,” on Helen specifics), “Patch of Blue,” “Ray,” and the Koren crime thriller, “Blind.”

…Of course there are the specifics of the disability to adhere to, but it is the truth and quality of life beyond the disability, which is my focus. “Maudie” nailed that beautifully. People who happen to be in this particular circumstance, who fight not to let it define them, or limit them.

Yes.

Again, a soul much braver than mine, with a much sunnier outlook of possibility. It will do me good to fight for her. And I’m thankful for the team I get to do it with.

…And I need to go and work on it, now. Especially with that beautiful, delicately, specific example just having been before me.

…Only wanted to state that: all is not lost in office-hell feelings of incompetence and newness. Some is very safe and happy in art-joy and yayness.

…Which should prob’ly have been the lead story, there. Trust me to bury the good shit.

~D

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