Crystal Meth-eatre

i know it’s not good for me – an uncontrollable addiction.  why do i do this time and time again?  yeah, i can quit anytime i want to…  right.  how many times have i quit before?*  but i keep coming back…

in the final weeks, it’s the worst.  fast food inhaled in the car while driving to rehearsal, with the shrapnel making my car a trash-can-on-wheels for weeks.  dozens of hours in the car, nearly running out of gas twice a week.  no time for exercise, eating right.  certainly no time for sleep.  cramming last minute prop, set and costume details into the time when i should be sleeping, working, or paying my bills…

more risks… not only eating in the car, but using all of my electronic appendages as i try to take care of my personal and professional business while rushing between the office and rehearsals.  high stress around the clock, and seething with impatience.  risking long-term relationships through short-tempered barking. 

i am a rational woman!  i’ve studied logic!  i know this is not good for me, yet i continue to dose myself.  isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome?

oh, but the high!  a group of strangers, gathered together on an empty stage around the template of a script and the vision of a director.  hours of intense work together.  relationships formed and tested – within days.  lots of drama – on stage and off.  quick-e-mart coffee, backstage slapstick, bummed cigarettes, alcohol, laughs and unexpected exchanges of body fluids**.

in this case, as assistant, a broader experience.  seeing performers grow as the show comes together.  watching as they develop nuances of movement, emotions, and expressions that bloom with just the least bit of encouragement.  sharing the moment when they gain new insight into the meaning of the show.  quietly donating cash to the young man who got fucked over by a roommate and couldn’t pay his electric bill.  keeping snacks, hugs and a first aid kit backstage for sustenance and repair.  being adopted as “tribe mother” – a coach and mentor.  seeing them all come alive with fire and passion when the butts are in seats and the house is sold out.

and then just like it started – poof – it’s over.  we strike the set after the final performance.  splinters from well worn 2×4’s.  cuts and scrapes from hauling wood and metal to storage sheds.  props, costumes and assorted gear stuffed back into canvas tote bags and hauled to the parking lot.  wearing out batteries on half a dozen cordless drills in less than an hour.  the stage is bare – as if it never happened.  more alcohol, cigarettes, screwing, tears and hugs… and we scatter to the winds.  relieved that the ride is over.  aching for a chance to go again…


* i hold the record for resigning the most number of times from my local theater board of directors.  i currently serve as ‘acting’ volunteer coordinator, since that’s a job i can do from home.  i’ll quit again as soon as i find some other sucker to do it for me…

** don’t ask.  (no, not the guitarist/stalker)

15 thoughts on “Crystal Meth-eatre

  1. nicely written, daisyfae!

    entertaining, pithy, fervent — kind of like a backstage hand job, only better!

    yep, you exhibit all the symptoms of a true footlight junkie.

    **(i hope you got your rocks off, anyway) 🙂

  2. nm – i didn’t necessarily mean the more exotic variety. during the run of the show, we had a run of a respiratory bug, and this weekend one of the leads had the flu. this is the naked kid i draped in lights… there’s no way i avoided those germs. damn it.

    toby – appreciate the review! i’ll add it to my theater resume. rocks? ain’t got no…

  3. Well said. I’ve done posts like this (been there/done that) myself but not as fun and creatively written as this one.

    Every time we say we’re gonna take a break. Poof! The allure of another show gets dangled in front of us.

    And back we go. Loving it.

  4. I haven’t done a show for eight years now – I’m almost itching to get my hands on those lighting sliders again, and the gels. Focussing just there. Arguing with the director about the need for that dark spot “just there” at that moment in the scene. All done for the camaraderie and the fun and especially for the hugs. (Last show I did was “Showboat” – the last performances in the world using white characters in blackface – California – home of the agents – altered its rules and now that is no longer allowed!)

  5. paisley – it was. and with few exceptions, it usually is…

    az – i’m pretty tired. home from the cast party at 2am, in bed at 3am, up at 6am to get my butt on a flight. Zzzzzz…

    propschik – welcome to The Park! sounds like you know the drill… wonder if there’s a market for a 12-step program for “Community Theater Junkies Anonymous”?

    imeantno – no way, baby! travel schedule. yeah… that’s it! too much travel!!!

    uncle keith – break a leg on The West Side! challenging show… enjoy the ride!

    archie – Ha! Another thespian – and from ‘the dark side’ of the theater at that! yes, the hugs. i tried to slip away early from the cast party at 1:30am, but the cast caught me. hugs, tears, promises of ‘see you soon’… (sigh)

    toby – karma will rule the day. CA will either burn, fall into the ocean, or do both one of these days…

  6. toby – i’m liking it at the moment. sunshine in Feb? wow…

    kyknoord – very close to grief… family funeral without the whiskered aunts, sandwich trays and lawyers.

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