abundance · acting · authenticity · grace · gratitude · happiness · joy · life · performance · spirituality · theater

Being There

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See, there’s two things I’d forgotten in all the sturm&drang of rehearsals & work & sick & crossing bridges
& lack of down time: I’m actually good at this acting thing. And I enjoy it. 
In the maelstrom of preparation, I forgot why I was doing this.
As I sat in our reserved cast seats in the front row of the
audience, watching the other actors before my scene perform, I got a
few minutes to gather myself, and reflect. Something the director said during
the “let’s get PUMPED” speech before we got into costume helped to remind me:
She said, This is for you. This isn’t
for your friends, your parents, your partners: This is for you.
This is for me, I
repeated to myself. I remembered that this isn’t for a resume, for a good story
to tell when I’m older; this isn’t for accolades or for money. I am doing this
acting thing,
because I enjoy it.
Because it’s FUN. Because, once I do get through rush hour traffic from Berkeley, once I do find parking in the Mission behind some dude drinking Steel Reserve and
selling electronics out of his car, once I do get upstairs through the weird
haunted building, I come to a black box theater.
In that theater, I’m there to have fun, to enjoy myself, and
to share myself. I’m there to engage in something I thoroughly enjoy, just
for the sake of it
. How fucking novel.
It was and is nice to have been sought out during the
wine&cheese reception after the show by a cute little gay boy and his girl
friend, to have them sidle up during a conversation with a beamish grin, and
tell me how great my performance was. That they got chills. To ask if I did
that thing with my hands on purpose, and wow, you did? Wow. That was so great.
It’s gratifying to know that something that I actually enjoy
doing is enjoyed and appreciated by others—that’s true, too. (We are only so spiritual!)
But then, isn’t that the point of theater, too—to affect
another person. To affect an audience, to help them experience something? Sure, Mol, sure. Yes, you can enjoy the
accolades, too. As long as they’re not what’s driving you.
In the chaos of rushing to work, to rehearsal, to home, to do it all over the next day, I began to feel weary. I began to feel like
maybe I’m not cut out for this—that
maybe this hustle is a younger person’s game. Maybe it’s too late for me to be
high-tailing it all over creation in service of a pipe dream.
I really was beginning to wonder if I would audition again.
Part of my delay/hesitance recently, is that I knew I was in
a production that was taking all my time & memorization space. Part of it is that I
know I’m going out of town in April, and didn’t want to audition for anything
new when I’ll be gone. (Cuz, it seems to me that working actors can’t
really take vacation…)
And, part of it was/is just plain exhaustion and feeling
grueled instead of fueled.
But, I am getting to see that perhaps this is just part of the
process. Part of that “put in the hard work to enjoy the results” thing that I’m so
loathe to do most of the time. HARD
work? Meh.
But, perhaps that’s what’s required here, to get the feeling
I had last night. Sure, I fucked up some lines, but people didn’t seem to
notice. I still got to feel the sense of “right place.” In the chair, on
the stage, in front of lights so bright you can only make out shapes in the
audience; hearing the sound cues, the mounting tension of my scene, the
mounting tension I bring to my scene.
Getting to be there, getting to sit in that chair and show you what I’ve got –
It was… well, enlivening.
There’s a phrase I’ve heard to name those times when you
are so engaged that you feel out of time, out of the chaos of place, when you are so in something that
“time just flies,” – it’s called being “in the flow.” When you are so engaged
in what you are doing, when you are so enjoying what you are doing that you are somehow matching the heartpace of the Universe. When for moments or even hours, you just feel in it – your speed
aligns with the speed of life, and you flow, you coast, you glide.
In it. To be IN IT. In life.
There was a moment, too, as I sat in the dark audience
awaiting my scene that I remembered something I sometimes do: I survived cancer to be here, and I am HERE. Staking a claim. Making a name. Claiming my own.
The gratitude I felt to get to be in that PUMP YOU UP circle before the show: All chaos, time
pressure, toll bridges are lost – and I’m just there. 

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