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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

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While We’re Cheating, Know: I Miss You

8 Feb

Cecil and The Theatre Husband, are rehearsing “Gypsy, ” just down the street. They open two weeks before I do (45 minutes, just South.) 

…Together: they are teamed up as Louise and Herbie…in the strange only-theatre-way that one can, directly after playing man and wife, (with me, as their  oversexed –or under, depending on how you look at it– neighbor),  in “The Underpants. ”

It kills me, that I’m not there, partaking of their awesomeness and swimming in the absolute ease and delight that it is to work with them.

…But I’m also kind of super exhausted from our first first act work/run-thru, on my only third day of blocking into “Bountiful,” with like an 80% new-people-to-me team. 

…And: we kick total ass.

For custody battles, we’re splitting other former loves-of-the-past. I get my “Arcadian” arch nemisis, and fellow-actor-turned-Director…they get my “Black Coffee,” Ingenu. 

…It’s like an acting key-party of people swapping, and we’re all getting really good sex, but it’s still kinda like: “…But, I like how you just know to do that one thing. ” and,  “I’m jealous of this,” and,  “I sincerely cannot wait for you all to kick ass but: I’m a little pissed I can’t be part of it too.”

…So it goes…with greedy, creative, bastards, like us.

It’s not about “greener pastures.” It’s about “having any fun at all without me.” 

…And it’s also the pride in one another. And the fact that our shows are staggered so we will all get the chance (ultimately) to bask in the creative, ridiculously talented glow of one another.*

(*We’re super humble, too…) 

 …But meanwhile: it makes, “How was rehearsal tonight? ” a kind of super-loaded question. 

…The kind where you’re like, “Good sex. Different. Learned a lot. Miss that ‘thing’ you do. ”

…And the other guy goes:

 “Yeah. Me too. ”

~D

Rent Paychecks & Food Orphans

8 Jul

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Am watching this show that makes me want to cook all the time…an artform I am rubbish at, but like to pretend I can do anyway.

… My amended versions of fake recipes are entirely based on what seems like a good idea at the time, spun on its ear, with the hodge-podge of nonsensical foods and condiments I have to work with directly in my cupboard and fridge. This is because it was rent paycheck week, so I am poor again, but just as determined to invent something of culinary awesomeness with nothing at all but what I’ll refer to as the leftover Food Orphans in my kitchen.

… There is no lettuce, but I have zucchini and cucumbers. Lots of beans and rice…but no bread. Eggs without milk. Hot sauce in three varieties…and chicken broth…spaghetti with no sauce, and one can of albacore tuna.

… Every condiment in tiny takeout packet form, and every salad dressing…but no butter or sugar. I have a $12 Moroccan spice and a $3 Italien seasoning mix, but also a tiny packet of zillion-dollar-an-ounce Saffron, as well as a box of cornflakes, a thing of Shake-n-Bake, and cupcake decorations without ingredients to mix and make the cupcakes.

I dunno how half these things got in my house. Mostly, other people have bought them and left them, over time. Because everyone cooks there…not because the kitchen is posh and high-functioning…it is a galley with zero steel surfaces and a human dishwasher (me)…but mostly because I will ply free booze to anyone who will cook for me…so I can grate and cut things and pretend I know what I’m doing when I don’t.

Because I love food.

… And I love the process of making it.

… And so, when I go through friend-cooking-withdrawal… I click a food show on Netflix, get a burr up my ass, and go pretend I know how to go it alone with inventiveness.

I WILL FIND ART ANY WAY I CAN, AND PRACTICE IT, TO MY HEART’S DELIGHT… SO JUST SHUT UP ABOUT IT!

(The struggle is real.)

(… And not just for my palate.)

Next: Am starting to get frustrated with the ever evolving world of job hunting. You want this one who never calls, constant calls from all the ones you don’t want…the best jobs are too far away, the close ones are shitty, requiring your every night and weekend probable take-over. It has become a vicious cycle of the phone ringing and binging all day long, but always ending with anticlimactic fizzle.

My phone is quickly becoming sexually frustrated as hell, as I re-sweep the same damn ads over and over and over again, and Insurance companies haunt me like a mouth-breather on a crowded bus.

… Also, every accounting department known to man.

Trust me. You don’t want me in Finance. Or to sell things to people. You want to bury me in the back office where I can chew massive amounts of paperwork while speaking to no one…for hours and hours.

… Maybe I’ll start looking into the mortuary arts. It’s people-related, but only barely. It’s quiet, low stress, and there are no constant calls bitching about returns and repairs.

(No, but seriously. I should consider this.)

Meanwhile, why isn’t it 4:30 yet?

… Mrs. Johnson has arrived and gives zero fucks about the remainder of the work day. She just wants her forced 15k walk out of the damn way and a Pamprin cocktail with a whiskey chaser. And then: some pajama friend hang time.

… Which she’s damn-well gonna get. (I’ll have you know.)

The end.

~D

A Letter To Friends In The Audience

16 Oct

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You know how I have really high expectations of myself as a performer? And, you know how I am my worst critic and get really pissed off when I feel I have not been able to give the best performance I can for whatever random reason might have just occured?

…And you know how you mostly say, “I couldn’t even tell, what the hell are you even talking about?”

…And we sorta debate/argue a bit back and forth over it? And you roll your eyes at me, and I still feel I’ve failed, and then we all go out for a beer afterwards, under the stipulation we talk about anything at all but what you’ve just seen?

In good conscience, I can’t do that with this show.

…First of all, because it’s delightful and hilarious and populated by totally talented people…and second of all, because it’s a brand spanking new company, and we need all the word-of-mouth we can get.

This, however, doesn’t change the wall of anxiety I am facing every night to do this thing, I don’t have self confidence to be doing. You cannot reason with it, dismiss it, beef it up…I’ve tried…none of that seems to work. And though I am absolutely doing my job out there, to the best of my particular ability in this field, it is not a wheelhouse that any amount of exhausted rehearsals have managed to make me feel, “oh, hell yeah…I’ve got this.”

…In short, I will know most of the people in every audience of this show…because I’ve worked in this town for 15 years now, and have super supportive kick-ass friends. And I guess what it comes down to is:

1) Thanks for coming and being here for all of us, I know you’ll laugh lots and enjoy the hell out of this dork-fest of theatre love.

2) Please, dear God, can you spread the word on the streets to get some butts in the seats.

3) Fuck the beer, after…I’ll need a whiskey. Same table-rules apply.

Signed,

~ Perpetually-Freaked-Out-Susan

Dear Annie

11 Mar

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Well, my friend, as I’ve stacked two shows simultaneously after this one…I wanted to take a moment of reflection before an insanely busy weekend launches, inhibiting me completely.

…As it stands, we are three performances from where our road together ends.

…The time when both our bruised bodies and wrecked knees, ribcages stuffed in steel-lined corsets…the gallons of sweat and frustrated shared history with “that kid”…will have come to completion. I know how exhausted my body and brain is…I cannot even fathom how much yours was at final rest…but with Helen there beside you, I know it’s a peaceful, and well-loved place I leave you…until someone else picks up this script and begins the journey all over again.

I have truly treasured being a part of your world and history…learning the tiny details and intimacies of your life…the hard times and the sweet, and I’ve done my absolute best to provide the most truthful access to you that I could conceive of from months of study and communal brain space.

…I have to admit, it has been a more difficult task than I thought, to keep perspective in. Because honestly, you crack me the hell up with all your self-affacing humor in letters, your ferocious arguments in a heated moment, your stubborn refusals to back down, your imperfect people skills. But god, you were beautiful too…with your very honest, human struggles against doubt, and self confidence, and pain, and the loss that fueled the nightmares which haunted you all of your life.

I am astounded by so many things about you, but most of all, at the way you still managed to open (even if only to one person, truly) and trust enough…to “love” again. Despite all of it.

…I have loved being some far-reaching part of your existence. I did my best to do you proud, and though I could frequently hear you cussing at me and sighing from above, during manic rehearsals …I know you’ve nodded in my direction at least once or twice. Because I’ve felt it.

…A lot of actors I know, find performing actual people from history a daunting task. It’s a slippery slope that many feel caught and restricted in, which I never have. The homework only feeds me…the mindful conversations I have in my head which I have always invited the spirit or essence of such person to openly become a part of, makes me feel I’m participating in a secret interview with the past that not many people get the chance to undertake. I feel connected and energized and try to erase as much of my own judgment as I can, to keep an honest and open gateway to whatever enlightenment may come of it all. In essence, it may sound freaky-deeky, but in those moments, if I’m good and fair and trust…I am never alone…and I try to bring that with me as a host for the story being told. Frankly, I love the companionship of history and the people who make it worth remembering and talking about.

…Like you.

If you could look down right now and see what has come from the work you had started, all those years ago…I think I know you well enough to say that while not totally satisfied, you would still be proud. So many things changed for the better because of the work that you and Helen did.

So many lives.

…If you taught us nothing else, it is that every person has a worth of destiny and meaning…be they deaf, dumb, and blind, or an orphan girl with only six years of education under their belt.

…Whether you were of the inclination to believe it or not… I bet you all I’ve got, that a little boy named Jimmy…perfect in body and mind…is standing beside you right now, proud as hell, and grinning with all of his might, in agreement.

…And Helen too.

Three more shows, and I have to let you go. But before I do…wanna know my deep down secret?

In over 50 roles, you have been my most especial and absolute favorite.

Thanks for the hard, and wonderful work, Lady. In life, and on stage.

Your Big Fan,

~D

Earnest, My Lover

4 Mar

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Here we are…halfway through the run of “Miracle,” over the hump of that 16 shows in 17 days marathon, back at performances as usual tomorrow, while today I have first read to begin the next show.

It’s the first time I’ve ever remounted a role, which is going against the grain for me.

…Whatever character I take on, I put everything I’ve got into it…so good, bad, or otherwise, there is no need to revisit them to my mind.  Obviously I could have taken later lessons and instilled them into earlier characters in my career to make the work more solid, but performance art being what it is…one could always say that, then end up playing the same 5 roles your entire career on repeat.  No thank you.  I learn what I can from each, and move the fuck on.  It’s healthier that way.  Even for the ones I really, really love.

…But this re-visit comes from what I’d call “unfinished business.” And it is also allowing me to work with one of my favorite artists I’ve ever shared a stage with.  The fact we had both done the same show before, is anything but adding dust to an old already-written book, as his role has now swapped and we’ll be firing on all cylinders in a trilogy of romantic mayhems together.  Our last chance to touch upon that regime was in “Importance of Being Earnest,” where we first realized the mad-cow totally platonic chemistry we apparently swim in together…which amuses the fuck out of us both, I think…as I doubt two more totally NOT interested-in-one-another-at-all people could be found. 

…The joy of finding a performing  “yin” to your “yang,” the always “yes-man” to every idea…the person who you can literally go anywhere you can mentally and physically conceive of, on a total whim, which for some reason just always fucking works…THAT is a hell of a lot of fun to play and work with. Actual communication isn’t even a necessity of the beast…it’s like we’re artistically wired to the other’s guys idea-sector.

…Which, given that it’s period and farce, outrageous and scintillating, means I’ll have a lot to keep my mind busy and inventive, and  joyful as I wave goodbye to my favorite role to date.  The transition will be far less bumpy with a buddy at my side…several buddies in fact. 

…Sometimes being “The Woman,” ain’t all bad…

Hark, “39 Steps”…it’s me again.  Grab the wigs n’ handcuffs…eets time to plaaaay. 

~D

I Was Asked…

5 Nov

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Back by popular demand…I’ve been requested to do an office update. 

…What air-headed new upset has The Gnome gotten into? Has WHS Pimp followed through on his custom designer tampon line?  What shenanigans can two actors in one real-world job situation get into?  Exactly how much junk food can you consume in a single day without puking it back up again?  These answers and more, in our ongoing soap-like drama of Brothel-joy.

First: The Gnome has been on maternity leave for over a month now.  For which we are all glad. “Stupid” may be occasionally cute and funny when tempered across several week’s or months of time in a “greatest hits” kinda deal…but when you actually have to deal with it live and in person every work hour of every day, it is fucking exhausting.  What is nice is not having to temper screaming things like, “OH MY GOD, HOW DO YOU STILL NOT KNOW HOW TO FAX?!” or “YOU ALPHABETIZE BY LAST NAME NOT FIRST…HAVE YOU ANY IDEA HOW MANY FUCKING ‘FREDS’ ARE IN THESE CUSTOMER FILES?!” before I’ve even had my morning coffee. On a continual basis.  

…Basically, I can get through the day now without wanting to punch a pregnant woman in the face…and I count that as a win.  Especially as unless you try to interact with her in person, that just sounds really bad…like I’m a super terrible person.  And while I’m no Mother Theresa…I’m hardly a Mussolini.  But a person can only take so much active stupidity across an extended length of time, without mentally rebelling in some way.

…Which is how Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin impression REALLY got born.

True story.

…Anyway, she hadda boy.  The Gnome.  And we haven’t heard from her since. We hope, for the child’s sake, that she somehow birthed a savant who can feed and diaper himself…but other than that, she rarely comes up in conversation, unless first prefaced with something like:

WHS Pimp: Where the hell do you think she put the contract for that thing? 

Me: You mean as opposed to what a NORMAL person would do with it?

WHS Pimp: Yeah. Like…what was her “system” do you think?

Me: It’s cute how you think she had one.

WHS Pimp: No, but seriously though.

Me: It could, literally, be ANYWHERE.  Anywhere at all.  And I’m speaking actual not-shitting-you truth.

WHS Pimp: Fuck.

Me: Welcome to my world.

…Meanwhile…

Cecil of “Earnest” fame, has taken over The Gnome’s domain.  In the past month she’s ripped all the files out and alpha’d them like a normal person would, has digitally archived all record retention needs, learned how to do contracts the right way THE  FIRST TIME, and brought a plant in, called Ruth, who sits in the lobby being green and anti-depressive.

…A giant-fat-wealth of betterness has come in her wake.  Also an almost constant stream of theatre talk and commiseration zombie-eyed mornings on tech week.  It’s nice to have another in the room who gets it.  Since she’s joined staff, we’ve made it through two closings three rehearsal processes and are on our third opening weekend.  It’s manic, but it’s what theatre peeps do…so though we manage the ebb and flow accordingly, WHS Pimp’s head spins with conversations like:

WHS Pimp:  What the hell? Didn’t you just open a show last week? How are you closing already?

Me: No, that was my show.

WHS Pimp: Which one?! You’re doing two right now.

Me: No, I closed that last one, and am only doing one now.

Cecil: That was me.  I just opened.  But then I’m rehearsing now too.

WHS Pimp: Like she just did, with the two-at-once thing?

Cecil: Right.

Me: But then I closed the one, and am almost to tech week for the second.

Cecil: But I had to close my last one first because they are at the same theatre.

WHS Pimp: What?

Me: My second show and her first show are in the same season at the same theatre, back-to-back.  So her show has to close first, while I’m in rehearsal, meanwhile, she’s in rehearsal for her second show at a different theatre.  Her first one is closing soon, which means my second one will open soon, which means shes about two weeks from opening her second one.  Somewhere else.

WHS Pimp: For fucks sake!  How the hell are you even awake right now?

Me: Well, she’s twenty.  And I drink coffee. A lot.

…Meanwhile…

In Other, Other News:  WHS Pimp’s GF got him to sign up for a race. Like for running.  With his legs and everything. Apparently, “for fun.” It has been a journey to watch him combat morning stiffness in every joint, with afternoon pizza devouring, and after-work gin gulps…which he sends in IM’d pictorial proof together with titles like, “I made it to the end of the block without stopping.  CHEERS!!!”  I told him that though I’m not the best dietary nutritionist on the planet, I doubted that after-run hydration recommendations include alcoholic beverages…even if mixed with nothing.  To which he said things like, “Nonsense! Gin is mostly herbs, berry extract, and rubbing alcohol! If nothing else, I’m a homeopathic genius!” 

…Weeks of this ensued.  Together with talks about special anti-chafing underware, iso-socks that can cripple you if you put the wrong one on the the incorrect foot, and debating on whether udder cream, Vaseline, or chapstick is the best to combat this raw-nipple problem that apparently runners get who don’t have to wear three kinds of bras just to keep their boobs from knocking them out on the up-jump. 

…Across two month’s time he’s dropped about $350 on crap just to do this race…which blows my fucking mind, not least of which because it isn’t even a proper sport and requires not a single tool in order to actually do it.  When the hell did running turn into a multi-million dollar industry of whole shoe stores where people squat to watch your stride and make sure your $180 trainers are supporting your heavier in-step fall than your rolling out-step?

I dunno.  But whatever the craziness, it ended this last weekend.  In one single run.  The pictures of which show him purple-faced to the point where anyone would assume he might drop dead of cardiac arrest at any moment.  The look of pained concentration, with his 11 layers of light-weight, stream-lined, state-of-the-art gear blearing in florescent reflector glory, was a sight to behold. 

So was his walk, on Monday.

Me: Lookin’ good buddy.

WHS Pimp: Ffffffuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Me: –So full of healthy awesome!

WHS Pimp: …Oh god….

Me: –So energized…

WHS Pimp: …Sweet Jesus…

Me: — Just the picture of rock-hard-badassness.

WHS Pimp: She signed me up for another one.

(Total silence)

WHS Pimp: …I might have to break up with her.

(I nod, and offer a cookie.)


(He takes it. And starts to cry. Ever so softly.)

~D

 

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