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.