A Small Return

I’ve had a taste of acting again and I feel the return of those desires and cravings that have been dormant for so long; the ones I pushed down and ignored until it subsided into the gentle haze that long-ago memories have.  That was that other person I was going to be when I was younger.  That was that other thing I was going to do, before I decided I was kidding myself and needed to just let it go.  Sometime in the last ten years, I decided that acting, the thing that was like breathing, that I was so passionate about, that from the time I was 3 was just a defacto part of my identity, wasn’t something I was ever going to do.  I remember deciding that those dreams, that passion, that sense of fulfillment and joy wasn’t real.

Last fall, I participated – at the last-minute – in PCSF’s  24-Hour Play Fest.  I stepped in as an actor to replace someone who had to drop out.  I don’t know who it was that I was replacing, but I’m glad that I did.  I hadn’t done any acting in a while, but especially hadn’t done any memorized, staged performance in front of an audience in over a decade.  It was terrifying and exhilarating.  A safe re-entry, with immediate and massive feel good rewards.  Within 24-hours of deciding to act, I was on the stage, off the stage, and sharing the post-show high with cast, playwrights, audience, and directors.

Everyone is memorizing and working their plays in roughly 8 hours.  This means that everyone was in the same boat: time to memorize, comprehend, and develop their characters.  It made it easier.  I felt less like I was going to stand out in a spotlight of awkwardness.  The nervousness and excitement that everyone was feeling would mask the terror I was feeling.  I managed to carry it off, it felt good, if a little uneasy and stiff – like leather gloves you haven’t worn in a while.

Since then, I’ve caught myself dusting off my monologues and rehearsing.  I made a flash decision to audition for PCSF’s Spring Reading Series on Sunday the 9th and have been looking at the general audition schedule for other theatre companies – for next season.   I feel ready and hope I don’t make an ass of myself on Sunday, but even if I do, at least I’m doing it.

Last weekend, I went to see THE PAIN AND THE ITCH at Custom Made Theatre in San Francisco, and  — setting aside for a moment just how incredible the performances, script, direction, and design was — it was that kind play I always used to think of as an actor’s play.  Language, subtext, motivation, meaty dialogue, deep character flaws (as in a great character with intentionally developed, well crafted weaknesses), and a balancing act between delicacy, tenderness and ugly emotional explosion; all the things that mean the actor gets to *play*; gets to tear into it and revel in the ups, downs, twists, and turns.  The actor gets to experience the audience experiencing it with them, and it’s like a feedback loop of awesome.  It’s delicious to do that and I miss it.  I really really really miss it.

Photo by Jim Norrena
Photo by Jim Norrena
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