acting · community · connection · intimacy · love · theater

"It’s not about the applause."

I’m doing it again. This “auditioning” thing. 
It makes me nervous, giddy, excited, daunted, and happy, underneath all the neurosis. Seems I’m the perfect image of an actor, then, eh?!
But really. I was thinking about it when I was in To Kill A Mockingbird recently, about tweaking the title of Lance Armstrong’s memoir, “It’s not about the bike”: It’s not about the applause. 
At the end of the show, the performance, onstage, when I come out for my bow, I don’t really hear it. Adrenaline in my ears, it’s part of a wall of sound crossed with Charlie Brown’s teacher’s voice: Wah Wah Wah. It’s the briefest moment. Shorter than an orgasm. It can’t be why you do it. 
It’s not about the applause. 
Because in the moment that the audience is able to reflect on what they’ve seen and pass judgement positive or negative, they’re already out of the moment — and that’s not what this acting thing is about for me. 
Not that I have much experience! But from that which I do, I realize that it’s more about what’s happening in the moment of performance with the audience, the experience created with them in real time. Whether that’s engagement, boredom, emotional stirring. 
For me, those moments of connection are what it’s about. To create a space and an environment for others to have an emotional experience they otherwise might not have had that evening. 
For me, it’s always been about that. From poems written years ago that highlight my desire to incite a revolution or evolution in people through performance. 
You can hear it from the stage. Whether the audience is holding their breath, gasping at a sudden revelation. Or crying, you can hear the sniffling. Or laughing, or that one person in the audience who laughs harder than others, or is trying not to laugh because no one else is. 
It’s this petrie dish of human experience. How will they respond, react, be moved, if at all?
I love it. I love being a part of it. I love having a small hand in moving people, of allowing them the moments of anonymity in the dark theater to be moved. That intimacy, even though I will never see their faces. That authenticity they get to experience, even though they paid for it. 
Isn’t that what Aristotle spoke of when he said theater was a catalyst of mass catharsis?
So in those few moments when I’m timing when to step out and down to the apron of the stage, and for a moment be Molly instead of character, it’s like stepping out as the man behind the curtain in Oz. Like seeing how a magic trick works. 
It’s lovely and I won’t fein that it isn’t bolstering to get applause, but I rush that part in my head, braced against it somehow, not really hearing it, just trying to bow and let the next person have theirs. 
Sure, it’s gratifying as we, the whole cast, stand there hands clasped over our heads, knowing that this sound is a show of appreciation and gratitude and approval. 
And I won’t say I don’t like it or hope for it. But. 

It’s not about the applause. 
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acting · action · commitment · community · fear · help · isolation · perseverance · scarcity · self-doubt · self-support · singing · trying

Doing Sh*t

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On my way into my first audition last Saturday, a good
friend texted me support, saying:
“You’re DOING SHIT!”
This is in stark (pfft, get it?) contrast to one of my most
read blogs, Magical Accidental Orgasm (and I can tell from the stats list that
many people find it by searching “Accidental Orgasm” on Google!). The blog was
about my realization that I was waiting for someone to come along and prescribe for me my life, my bliss, my path without me doing much of anything. I was waiting for someone to (metaphorically!) “give me orgasms,” as I cribbed from The Vagina Monologues.
But today, two years later, I am no longer waiting. Today, I am doing shit.

This morning I woke up and practiced
the bass line for the set my band is playing on Saturday.
Tomorrow, I’m going to take my first voice lesson from someone who comes with
great recommendations. And Sunday, I will start rehearsal for Addam’s
Family: The Musical
(which still just gets
such the kick out of me!).

(Side-bar: Coincidentally, when I was in 4th or 5th grade, I dressed as
Wednesday Addams for Halloween. So I guess it’s appropriate that 20 years
later, I play her mother!)
Doing shit. Despite my thinking – always
despite my thinking – I continue to put good things in my path. I honestly don’t
remember how I found that audition call.
But, I do remember finally having coffee with a
friend/acting mentor last Sunday to help me in my newbie, greenness. She is the
one who suggested the song I sang for my auditions, and who recommended this voice
teacher. She invited me to come over last Wednesday and practice my monologue in front of her.
And last Friday, I invited a woman to coffee who is making a
go of the “life as singer” life to ask her how I could get out of my bubble
of not being seen. She had many great suggestions, just to get me out and
singing. Like choruses, and meet-ups, and this piano bar I didn’t know about
that’s here in the East Bay.
I don’t want to do
shit. Doing shit is
scary!! But I
also don’t want to wait for someone else to press play on my life, because that
person is not coming. I don’t want to wait for the trumpet blast or starting gun or treasure map or even Ed McMahon, because they’re not coming.
This doesn’t mean that I move any quicker, but despite my fears,
doubts, self-derision, scarcity mind, I continue to ask for help and put myself
in the path of … shit.
That’s how all these things have happened. I ran
into a friend and jokingly said if you need a second bassist, and in fact, he
was just trying to put back together this side project, but thought I wasn’t
doing music anymore. Well, now! Yes, please! And so, here we are, about to play
a show.
I like the responsibility and accountability it gives me to
myself and to my dreams, not to mention to others. Having to show up with other
people means that I can’t flake out. I have to wake up and practice, or I’ll be
disappointed and disappointing. I have to make audition dates, or I’ll languish
in “someday” and “wouldn’t it be nice.” I have to take voice lessons, show up
at piano bars, take suggestions, or I will continue to say, “Not good enough,
not really, not me.”
If wishes were horses… Apparently, I’d ride. 

acting · clarity · community · dreams · friends · joy · life · theater · truth · trying

My Brain Reads Like a Cafe Gratitude Menu…

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I am pure, undiluted joy.
Honestly, you could culture my blood for Potions class.
There was an impromptu dance party.
I left an incoherent bubbling message on my mom’s voicemail,
and called my brother, too. Who told me I’m awesome. And who I told back that
he is, too.
For those who don’t follow my Facebook feed, I found out this morning that I got the
role
of Morticia in “Addams Family: The
Musical.”
The one I don’t even know how I found the audition call for.
The one I auditioned for this weekend to my own mediocre reviews. The one I was
called back for, to my own mediocre reviews.
I’m sensing a trend here: What I think, and what reality
tells me, may be two very different things.
And, here, for the better.
The astounding thing to me is this is the second lead role
I’ve been offered in as many months. From, “you know your height gets in your
way” to “please join us” … Wow.
There’s a quote that called me to sit for a moment in
silence on my bed, breathing heavy from the fist pumping, Elaine-thumbs-out
dance party:
Don’t forget to pause a minute and thank G-d for
everything
.
Thank you. Thank you, Universe, for conspiring for me. Thank
you, Molly, for showing up even though you’re scared and doubtful. Thank you,
FRIENDS, for receiving those phone calls and texts that ask you to send me love
and support. Thank you, friends, for sending love and “likes” and hope.
I need you way more than you know.
And you always show up, which is marvelous – like, something
to marvel at. Really.
The play will run mid-September to mid-October. This means
that I will spend my October 7th birthday in performance.
I spent my 30th birthday with fondue and friends. I spent my
31st in a hospital bed, saying, “Next year: Brunch, huh?”
I celebrated 32, indeed, at brunch with a dear friend and her two
kids whose laughter is part of my salvation.
And, god willing, I will spend 33 in pursuit of a dream I
have let languish in a faded costume closet. The clothing of another woman in
another life.
Life moves and shakes, it do.
And part of my work is to accept that these costumes, these roles, these friends, this love, this life … are for me, too.
Let’s throw open the doors, pull out these moth-eaten
dreams, and hold them up to reality. They may be more solid than I’ve wanted to
know.
Thank. You. 

acting · action · avoidance · community · fear · perseverance · self-compassion · self-derision · theater

How to Eat an Elephant.

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Thank you, to whoever read my blog Perseverance yesterday, which encouraged me to read it, which I’m
sure I haven’t done since I wrote it in November 2012. Particularly appropriate
today is the following:
With each creative endeavor, as you
know by now, I pull back at some point. Painting, acting, writing, singing. I
will spend a few months active in pursuance of these interests, and then wane.
I will talk myself back from it, in any number of ways, and move back into my
mediocrity.
Yesterday, I showed up for two theater auditions. At the
first, I sang a bit of a song (“Whatever Lola Wants,” from Damn Yankees) and a bit of a monologue (Sherry Johnson, from The
Laramie Project
).
It was the first time I’ve auditioned for a musical since
high school; I only just heard the whole song on Monday; and I’d never
practiced it with an accompanist before. Let’s just say, I could have done
better!
(However, I’m “lucky” enough to have already had several
auditions where I really bombed, where I
said, “I’m so sorry can I start again…” three times! So I know what
really bombing is! And I survived.)
At the second audition yesterday, for… The Addams Family,
A Musical
(HAHAH!!!), I was to prepare only
a song, and I sang the same one, this time a little better. But.
There’s a moment in the song, where it hits a high note.
It’s one that this whole week I’ve been nervous about hitting, not because I
can’t, but because I can’t when I’m holding back. It’s not an unattainable
note at all: it’s one I can’t reach when I’m nervous about it, scared I can’t hit it,
and am psyching myself out, even as I come to that line.
Then I can’t hit that
note. And that’s precisely what happened at yesterday’s audition.
And the paragraph from my blog Perseverance is achingly on point. “I talk myself back from it.”
That’s exactly what happened.
Now, granted, I’m pretty proud of how I handled everything
yesterday, too.
After my first audition, I immediately called a member of
Team Molly, and laughed really hard
about how I bombed it. The silence of the auditors, the awkwardness, the sad
case of the whole thing – I
laughed.
Because, really, what else can you do? It’s over, it’s done. I can get all
butthurt and self-flagellating, or I can ask myself what I learned from the
experience.
Which is what I did. I asked it aloud, so as not to give in to
the brain gremlins on my drive home: What did I learn?
Well, I learned that I need to practice my songs with accompaniment. I learned that I need to know my songs much better and stronger than one week. And I learned that I really do need to
take classes or lessons, if I’m serious about doing this. Which I am.
As with the “real” headshots I finally got done early this year, if
I’m really serious about making a go of this, then I have to literally put my
money (and energy) where my mouth is. I have to invest in myself.
It’s all well and good to show up partly prepared to these
things, and see what kind of results I get. Sure. That’s totally one way to do
this. But. That’s not at all what I want. I don’t want to feel I gave it a
mediocre chance.
No matter what the results, I really do want to try my best, and this is not at all my best.
This is lip service.
Nonetheless. As the first line of my morning pages said this
morning, “I did really well because I showed up anyway!!”
I also supported myself throughout the day, instead of falling into despair or
hopelessness, which would be really easy. And which would look like coming home
to a pint of ice cream and 8 hours of Netflix.
Instead, I drove back to the Bay, went grocery shopping, and went to meet
up with friends for an hour to hear their brain dump, and share a little of
mine.
And then I went to the second audition.
After which, I created plans for myself so that I didn’t
come home and isolate. I made plans with a friend to get out of both our comfort
zones and go to this poetry open mic thing that happens monthly nearby. Neither
of us were going to read, but just to go to check it out. Try something new.
And not be alone in our heads.
It totally worked. I set up for myself stop-gaps for my racing
thoughts, for my “not good enough” thoughts. I got into the day and out of
myself. And what all of this does is allows me to show up again next time.
Because who wants to show up again for something that you tell yourself you
sucked at?
Instead, I showed up again, and I will endeavor to support
myself with a steadfast vision by taking classes and making sure that I don’t
have to feel so psyched out and unprepared next time.
And, just so’s you know. I got called back to the Addam’s
Family audition, anyway. 😉 Wish me luck!… No, forget luck. Wish me love. 

abundance · acting · authenticity · choice · community · fear · scarcity · self-worth · trying

Car Conversations

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Because the question isn’t: “Would you rather be in a play
or not be in a play?” anymore. Maybe that’s what it was a year ago. But my
vision has changed, as visions are allowed to do. And more, it’s
probably that I’ve allowed myself to see more of my vision, rather than it actually
“changing.”
Now, the question is: “Would I rather be in a play, or be in a
good play?”
It’s the same coin as the line of thinking that goes: Well,
at least you have a job.
That, at its core, is very true, but it seems to me that
when we’re living in integrity with our values in as many places in our lives
as possible, we’re doing more good – for ourselves and for the world.
When people
are living lives that are engaged, they inspire me. There are circumstances
that can keep us from this expression of our true selves and skills, surely.
There’s war famine racism classism sexism disease and all manner of ill
fortune. I recognize the privilege it is that I’ve been able to crawl out of (and partially
been born out of) the first tier of “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs,” out of the
pure and simple satisfaction of the needs for food, shelter, clothing, and
income.
I am reminded of a phone conversation I had with my mom
several years ago. I was in the car with a friend when my cell rang. I
answered, we spoke a few minutes, and the call ended. What struck me later wasn’t the content of the call, but how I behaved during the call. My friend overheard every word and all the
manner and mannerisms that came out during my conversation – and those
behaviors would align perfectly with how I interact with my friend.
There was little to no difference between how I comported
myself in relation to my mom and how I was in relation to my friend. That
alignment of “personalities” was completely new to me. I was always someone different with friends, coworkers, family
members, lovers. Although there are necessary adjustments you need to make in
those various relationships, I was always way out of alignment – they
all were completely disparate personalities.
My car conversation allowed me to see that I was “aligning
the films of who I am,” as I later put it. It wasn’t about a shift from
wearing different masks to wearing the same mask; it was about relieving myself
of the masks at all – and being the same ol’ me no matter where, when, or who.
This feels completely parallel to my circumstances and
predicaments these days: How to bring the same person, with the same
boundaries, needs, and self-esteem, to work, to play, to relationship.
How to live in integrity, which, to me, means aligning the
films of ourselves. Not participating in self-abandonment, and bringing every
endeavor and relationship into the light, and questioning if it meets our
standards of what we want for ourselves, and if we’re meeting those standards through our own action.
It’s all well and good to report and purport that I want to
cease settling for less in many areas of my life; it’s another endeavor
entirely to take actions that support that desire. Again, that’s integrity – being who you say you want to be.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I am leaving this play.
When my friend last night told me that her “intuitive hit” was that I could
find work that I love, I began to well up. It’s not about permission to do the play or not do the play, even — it’s about giving myself permission to do that which I love. In every arena of my life right now, I’m
endeavoring to find that which I love – which starts from acknowledging
and listening to and giving enough credence to self-love to do that.
If I am purporting that I want to do what I love, but there
are still these fissures of contrary action, I’m offering a divided message to
“the Universe,” but mostly to myself. If I engage in that which doesn’t feed my
soul and my joy-meter, I’m giving the message that it’s (still) okay to abandon my
desires, and that my desires aren’t that important to me anyway.
It’s time for me to have a car conversation with the
Universe, one in which I am myself – self-confident with a hint of doubt, a vehement believer in the need for joy and
alignment, more than a tad bit wacky – no matter who’s on the other line. 

acting · authenticity · commitment · dating · falsehoods · fear · insecurity · pride · self-abandonment · self-worth · truth

Note: In this evening’s performance, the role of Pride will be replaced by Truth.

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She held up her fingers:
“One: Is it a theater company or director you really want to work with?” No, not really.
“Two: Are they paying you really well?” No, zilch.
“Three: Is it a play you are excited about and really want to do?” No,
not at all. It’s awful
.
“Then don’t do
it,” she concluded.
But I auditioned for him three times.
“So, what? Say that something else came up and you’re really
sorry. The thing is, that’s a huge commitment for somewhere you don’t want to
be. You’d be wasting time that you could use honing your craft, going on other
auditions, taking classes, and finding something you really
want to do.”
But it’d be my first lead
role.
“Yeah, in a play where the actors outnumber the audience for a play you don’t want to be in. That sucks; take it from me.”
* * *
This was the conversation I had last night with my friend
who’s a semi-professional actress when I told her I was having doubts about the play in which I’m cast. She said these were the 3 golden questions
her acting teacher said the actor had to answer for himself. The instructor,
being at a higher level, said that for him, he has to answer Yes to all three
of those questions. For my friend, mid-tier, she was told, No more crap jobs:
She has to answer Yes to at least two of those questions.
And for me, beginner, I have to answer Yes to at least one of those questions.
Otherwise, what the hell am I doing with my time? What am I
saying my time means to me?
I am very much associating all this with my job/career
search. If a guy continues to get promoted up through the ranks at a company he
doesn’t enjoy, doing work he hates, but is paid really well, is that enough? I can’t say.
If we’re not getting
paid well, doing work we love or working with people we enjoy… well, what are
we doing?
If we can’t answer Yes to any of these questions in regards
to career, why are we there? Why are we wasting any days of this short life?
I don’t yet know if I’m going to bow out of the play in
which I’ve been cast. When I told her again that I auditioned for him 3 times — meaning, I feel that he’s already put such time and effort into me and my performance I’d feel guilty dropping out  she
replied, “Take care of yourself, not them.” … Oh… right.
Because the reality is that I will be in rehearsals for 3
hours nearly every day of the week for two months… for a really awful play. It’s really awful, folks. Not like, passable,
manageable, I’m just being picky 
 It’s really awful. It’s terribly written. I’d walk out, if I were an audience member.
Because it wouldn’t have been worth my time.
No matter how great I am or am not in the play, my heart
wouldn’t be in it – and if it’s not, then that’ll show up, too. I roll my eyes
every time I read the script. I say aloud to my cat, “This is a really awful
play,” each time I start to rehearse it.
I don’t know yet. It’s a hard judgment call, you know? I
asked my friend, What about having to work your way up the ladder, and take
shitty jobs at first? She pointed me back to those three questions. Where are my values?
Is my hesitation to drop out about my having a lead role, so I can feel pride? Pride over a notation on my resume? Pride
over something that I’m not proud of? Is it about status? Is it about feeling this proves that I’m worthy; that I’m good?
How can you feel worthy about something you’re not proud of?
That doesn’t compute.
I’m meeting with another actor friend of mine tomorrow to
run lines for this play. I’m hoping to get insight in conversation with him –
if it’s really as awful as I think it is.
But, I already know it is.
What my friend told me was that I should audition for
everything, but don’t go to callbacks if it’s a terrible play!
I’m reminded, once again, of the dating/job interview
corollary: It’s great to say Yes to the first date or interview. But after
that, you’ve garnered enough information to know if you want to try it out again
or not. I don’t have to show up a second time, if I’m really sure this is not a fit.
So, yes, it would be really great to say that I’m the Queen
of the Amazons. It makes me feel worthy and proud and like I’m not making a huge mistake in going after this dream. But isn’t the mistake not respecting what really want, and settling for (way) less, just so I can say I have a lead? Isn’t the mistake I’ve been loathe to make in relationships settling for less than I want, just so I can say I have a partner? 
Wouldn’t I rather be somewhere where I’m excited and learning
something, instead of just clocking time? 

acting · community · confidence · fear · learning · smallness · theater · trying

Be a Royal

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Yesterday, I auditioned with the weird, avant garde theater
company I saw perform briefly on Saturday. Last week, after telling me I didn’t in fact get a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ role as I’d thought, the producer of the company I’ve
been auditioning with these past few weeks continued, “You must know your
height gets in your way.….
“But, we’re doing this ‘Queen of the Amazons’ play, and I’d
like to introduce you to the director.”
So, I met the director last Saturday. At the weird hippie
commune cult Renaissance patchwork crystal-wearing children-of-the-corn-toting ensemble performance.
I’m hippie, people, but I’m not that hippie. Really.
Nonetheless, I spoke with the director for a little while,
he invited me to stay for the performance, which I could only for a few
minutes, and then the producer called on Wednesday to say the director would like
to audition me. And yesterday he did.
He asked at our initial meeting if I really played bass, as is
listed on my resume, and I said yes. So he asked me to bring it. And I did,
along with my guitar, since I really am only a novice at bass, and can’t really
improvise how some might.
We met. He showed me binders and binders of photos from his
previous performances. Despite being achingly weird, some of them, they were
interesting. Achingly weird. He said American theater bores him – he’s Italian.
And then I played two songs I’d written on the guitar, and
sang. And it was strange, just us two, but so nice to be back behind an
instrument again. My throat is sore from it, from being out of practice – just
another muscle, you can’t just decide to
run a marathon without training.
And then he had me read some of the scene. The main role,
the Queen of the Amazons.
It was challenging. I’m not that experienced, you know, and
it was great to have his feedback on what I was doing, like a private acting
lesson. “Be more open, more proud, you’re a queen.” Smile, melt us with your smile, make us love you even when you’re
angry. Speak from down here, not up here. Crouch, get physical, you’re an
AMAZON.
Ha.
It was weird, and fun, and hard, and intimate, and
vulnerable. And it’s still unclear to me if I’m “in,” and because of my “too-soon” (my brain can’t find the word I mean – need more coffee) — PREMATURE!! — that’s it — premature declaration the other week about landing a role, I’m
cautious to do that here. But. It seems very positive. And even if not, I got
some great notes.
It’s clear to me that I have some education to continue
around acting. That it would be worth it for me to look up classes or lessons
again. If I do get this role, it’s
intense, starring, physical, musical, and (word for pushing & challenging I
can’t think of). It may be more than I can chew, but I’ll face that if I get
the role.
The piece that stands out to me about the audition yesterday
was the director inviting me to be more queenly, assertive, confident. To allow what he saw as I played my instruments and sang. To let that person out. To not
be a queen through me and my mishegas (not his word!), but to be a queen as she would be.
I drove from the audition to a very long, but good meeting
at work, and on the ride asked myself aloud, “What does it feel like to be a queen?”
Role or no role, it’s my job to find out.