it was a year ago that i had my second surgery. the 6mm x 8mm cancer nugget was removed from my breast, along with one undiseased lymph node and about two pounds of breast meat that had faithfully obeyed the law of gravity for many years.
one year ago this week, my friends and i were having a drunken farewell party for the old “girls”, complete with balloons, silly gifts and enough alcohol to put an entire frat house into a coma. Of course the doc told me not to drink before surgery, so i quit well before midnight – technically, i followed the rules!
everyone deals with these situations differently – my method was to adopt a ‘level head plus perpetual motion’ technique. going to all medical appointments alone forced me to take good notes, and maintain a clinical approach to treament.
to stay busy, i was at a choreography session for Bat Boy, The Musical four days after the lumpectomy, opened the show 2 weeks later, and while finishing 6 weeks of radiation, started training for a half-marathon (having never run a step in my adult life).
denial? you betcha!
But after 6 performances, 40 discarded pounds, a couple hundred training miles and a half-marathon under my belt, i had bulldozed my way through the year, also forcing recovery from a skewed work/life balance that had me routinely working 60+ hours per week.
what better way to celebrate the year than completely letting loose with a tribe of sweet and talented kids putting on a show in that beat up ol’ theater in a sketchy section of town? i honestly don’t give a shit what i looked like on that stage… and i certainly wasn’t acting tonight. the joy was genuine.
Front page coverage for Hair in the local newspaper – trying to drum up some controversy regarding the nudity (which occurs over less than 5 minutes of a 2 hour show).
If we didn’t expect to sell out all four shows, i’d invite some friends to protest in front of the theater tomorrow night, and call the local tv stations – it is sweeps month! As much as i love the free publicity, i’m surprised at the ‘above the fold, with photo’ treatment. C’mon, folks… there really wasn’t anything better for the front page today?
From the article:
Getting naked during rehearsal at your local community theater is one thing. Doing so in front of a capacity audience is another.
It goes on to mention that the show is opening exactly 40 years after the Broadway debut, and 38 years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned attempts to ban it.
I’m getting very attached to the cast, and it seems mutual. They have adopted me as ‘tribe mother’ – maybe just because i feed them. The article in the paper today includes a lovely quote from the young man playing Woof.
…it was awkward until the cast began to develop unity. “Now it’s almost like being a little kid again, running around on stage naked for everyone to see.”
This is the same young man that i get to hang lights and glow sticks on before “electric blues”. While he’s completely naked. Oh, and he went to high school with my daughter. We’re used to it now, but i’ll admit, it was a bit awkward the first time.
For the Saturday performance, though, he is planning to have a special glow stick wrapped elegantly around his nutsack. We did it in one rehearsal, and it looked quite fetching, but the director poo-poohed it – said it made his junk too prominent. He has friends driving most of the day Saturday to see the show, and he wants to do it for them.
Stage crew gets to do lots of interesting things. In addition to my job of hanging lights on the naked young man, i have to remove them quickly for a fast costume change.
I informed him that if he goes with the glowing cock-ring on Saturday, he’s got to remove it himself, or wear it for the rest of the show.
In addition to developing a new sense of how i feel about my body, I’ve also discovered that perhaps i do have a few limits…
I call Mom at least once a week, always on Sunday evenings. Tonight? I called from the car, driving home from a full day of ‘tech’ for Hair. After the initial ‘how was your week?’ discussion, where i generally get a run down of everything she’s eaten since last Sunday, there was this:
daisyfae: We had a good first tech run through of Hair today – still a bit rough, but it’s coming together.
Mom: You’re doing another show?
daisyfae: Yes, remember? I’m sure i’ve mentioned it – i’m working backstage. Couldn’t pass up the chance, since i’ve loved the music for this show since i was a kid…
Mom: Oh, that’s right… but you’re not in it, are you?
daisyfae: Well, as a matter of fact… i’m doing a short cameo appearance. The director and cast have invited me on stage for the naked ‘be in’ scene.
Mom: [pause] Naked? You’re getting naked? On stage?
daisyfae: At least partially naked – tonight i went topless.
Mom: But you’re wearing a bra or something…
daisyfae: Nope. Last time i checked, the definition of ‘naked’ was ‘naked’.
Mom: Showing your boobs on stage? At your age?
daisyfae: [smiling] Yes, Ma’am!
Two weeks before Hair opens, and i’ve attended rehearsals this week. Beautiful voices, but still a few mised lines, confused blocking and dance misfires. All in all, it’s in good shape going into the home stretch.
I was curious to see the infamous “Be In” scene. When Hair originally opened, the full nudity during this scene was controversial. The show is dated, though, and not produced very often. When it is? The nudity isn’t a big deal for modern audiences. Most people know what to expect and community standards have evolved over four decades.
It is a difficult thing, however, for amateur performers to be nude on stage – this is scary enough to warrant an entire category of nightmares! The directors vision is to see bodies moving, as much skin as possible, and clothing being tossed away. He is allowing each performer to choose the degree of nudity that is comfortable.
Not knowing what to expect, i was delighted to see this cast embracing their nekkidness – and no, not just because they’re pretty… Some performers went for “the full monty” (oops, that’s a different show). Others went with partial nudity, or just removing layers of clothing down to their underwear.
My contribution to this show will be backstage, assisting with props, costumes and the like. For fun (knowing how much i love this show), the director offered to let me be one of the policemen who arrest the audience and all those naked, stoned hippies at the end of the scene.
Earlier in the week, I was offered a different option. I now have the opportunity to make a cameo appearance during the “Be In”.
Did i need time to think about it? About a nanosecond…
Sorry kids, but Momma’s going to be showing some skin on a local stage! I’ll go ahead and book the therapist now… Are twice a week sessions enough to get started?
To avoid therapy maintain some connection with my creative self, i support local community theatre activities, from fundraising to management to performing. I was recently asked to assist with a production of Hair – being performed in honor of the 40th anniversary. My, how time flies when your brain is fried from acid and shrooms…
Rather than use original-esque cast members, who would now be in their 60’s, the director cast a collection of young, talented, beautiful 20-somethings (who will look nice nekkid). After a few rehearsals he realized that these lovely creatures knew exactly dick about the culture that inspired the tribal rock musical.
Calling for a character development meeting with the cast, he invited me, and several other people who were at least alive in the 60’s, to talk about the times.
ouch. i had actually considered auditioning for this one…. with the newly reconstructed Model Year 2007 Bionic Twins, i might have pulled it off…[sigh]
So there they were – beautiful, groggy (it was 10 am) and hungry for insight. The director started with a discussion of post-WWII culture, the creation of the suburbs and the seeds of dissent from the 50’s ‘beatniks’. He also pointed out that concurrently, there was a great technological boom – we’d entered the space race, putting a man on the moon in 1969.
“Allegedly”, said the beautiful boy at the end of the table (playing Woof).
[light bulb goes off over my head]
“No, that was the 80’s – the cynicism, conspiracy-theory, oliver-stone era. In the 60’s, it was idealistic – ‘we can make it better, here have a flower and mellow out…’.”
That was the magic of it all – then and now. Things were bad, but we were going to fix it! Not a clue how to do that, but it would be all right – some caring people, good music and lots of talking could change the world!
After the character development meeting, hugs all around from the tribesmen of the theater, and into my car. And a moment of sadness. When did we stop believing we could fix it? When did we stop trying? Why did we stop trying?