For better or worse

Although i’ve abandoned my personal theatrical pursuits, i still try to support friends active on the stage.  Chasing this show or that, i have generally been delightfully surprised with high quality performances in our local community theater community.

Today?  i knew it would be challenging… Not a show of great interest*, i had a couple friends on the stage – including one friend who had one of his first leading roles.  Word on the street was that “there are issues”… 

Snagging two of my Tuesday night drinking buddies, i booked three seats.  RJak and BS are relative newcomers to the local theater community, but have been enthusiastic supporters.  Over the past year, they’ve had the opportunity to see many fine shows, and were looking forward to yet another theater outing. 

i e-mailed them yesterday, strongly suggesting that we “pre-game” with a few drinks at my place before the 3:00 pm matinee.  RJak phoned to say she was running late – i told her i’d prepare her a flask with gin and tonic.  BS arrived in time to have a beer, and i was slamming bourbon when he got here…

As we were leaving, i offered to smuggle in an extra beer for BS – he declined.  Silly, silly BS.

When the curtain closed after an hour an 20 minute long Act I, we grabbed cookies from the lobby and escaped to the parking lot for fresh air and cigarettes**.  We worked hard at finding the bright spots – and there were a few.  A few “Family Groups” were performing together – on-stage and behind the scenes.  That always makes me happy.  Our friend was doing a nice job with his performance.

BS:  That was pretty painful.  Would it be rude to leave? (as we watched one minivan full of patrons skulk from the parking lot)

RJak (draining flask):  We could come back in an hour and just greet the cast in the lobby.  Maybe they wouldn’t notice?  Nice bar across the street…

daisyfae:  Ugh.  No.  We have to suck it up.

BS:  Really wish I’d taken you up on that smuggled beer.

We scarfed a couple more cookies as we made the death march back into the theater for Act II.  The performers were giving it their best.  The show had moments of “cute”.  Sets were fine, band was ok, some nice harmonies in a few songs.  Act II was mercifully short – well, less than an hour.

i’ve been in shows like that.  i know how it feels to be there – trying your damndest to make it work and knowing it’s hopeless.  You still try.  Weeks of rehearsals, set construction, practice.  These folks worked hard – and seemed to be having fun.   And i guess that’s the point… 

Sadly, it takes just as much effort to put on a bad show as it does to put on a good one… The next time you are staring down the barrel of two-hours of “Ouch”?  Don’t forget to pack the anesthesia.

“You tried your best and failed miserably. The lesson is: never try.”

* i tried to sink this one when i was on the play reading committee.  i failed…

** BS pointed out the ‘logic failure’ in this, as he sneered at the home made clove cigarettes proferred by RJak.

Screwing Off on a School Night…

Decided to drop into a “Latin Dance” class series this week – with the need to step up my workouts and my adoration of dance, it just made sense.  Just 2 hours a night, for three nights.  i recruited some of my local theater-posse to share the pain salsa-love. 

Last night the session focused on Salsa* – and we were informed that we’d be learning the basics, then “building” new moves over the next two nights as well. 

Holy. Crap.

i’m clearly a “Freestyle” performer.  “What do you mean i need to keep my feet doing that back and forth thingie while i start dragging my arms around my partners head like i’m wrapping him in spaghetti?”  This was a true test of coordination.  Oh, and i failed. 

i can do feet.  i can do hands.  i cannot do both at the same time…

The Meringue** was much more fun, and a helluva lot easier!  Imagine your ankles are chained together***.  Alternate knee bends, while keeping your feet on the floor and shuffling around with a healthy butt-wiggle.  Major lower body action as a result of the foot/knee movement.  Oh, and remember to keep your upper body still.

Ridiculously Cute, Hardbodied, Puerto-Rican Instructor Lady:  Remember, everybody is asleep upstairs, while there’s a party going on downstairs.

Lots of fun, successful workout.  My ass hurts. 

From there, off to drink beer – $2 Pint Night at a local pub.  And Karaoke!  Woo-hoo!  Once i’d ascertained that the local talent was lacking, daisyfae got up to belt out a few tunes.  After the second number, i had a table full of drunken groupies. 

Big fun… My ass and throat hurt this morning, and i’d felt like i’d been “ridden hard and put away wet” as i dragged myself out of bed to get to work by 7:30.  And to think i had that much fun on a school night fully clothed?


* Mmmm… “salsa”

** Mmmmm…. “meringue”

*** Mmmmm… “chains”

Would you do it on a stage?

Helping with the box office for my ‘home theater’ during the current production of Seussical, The Musical, i was asked to do the curtain speech.  This is that annoying (but legally necessary) bit where the audience is instructed to turn off noisy things, shown the fire exits and whatnot.

Given that i despise overly long curtain speeches, with a director* standing on the stage, reading items from the program (such as next seasons schedule), or whining interminably about the need for money, this was a nice chance to set a new world record.

Also, because this was a Seuss-related event, i took a half-hearted run at a Seuss-esque rhyme for the key messages:

Before our show can truly start,
        some important words i must impart
Taking flash photos with your photo gee-gaw
        is not only rude, it’s against the law!
The show will go quickly, intermission we’ll take!
        fifteen minutes for cookies, and merciful potty break!
In case of fire, danger or fright,
        exits are here and here, on the left and right**
Please turn off your pagers, blackberries and phones
        we don’t need to hear your clever ringtones!
One last thing before i have to go,
        Thank you for coming! please enjoy the show!

There was one other bit of information i was asked to mention, which wasn’t quite suitable for the rhyme.  A key contributor to our theater – the kind gentleman who donated the building we share with a senior citizens center – passed away last week.  I made a short mention, but what i really wanted to say… 

At this theatre, our hearts do sag
        We’ve lost our favorite money bag…
No shotguns or handguns, no terrible fright
        He just never woke up after sleeping all night…




* i was standing in for our Board of Directors president.  He clocks in at around 10 minutes every night.  i can’t say much to him because i’m sucking up – there’s a show i must do next year, and he’s directing. 

** Complete with the flight attendant “glued together double finger point” at the exits

the lovely “Cat in the Hat meets Grateful Dead” drawing is from a mural in Illinois (i believe), and was lifted from here….

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)

and they said it couldn’t be done…

brief comments from my children over the weekend, in regard to my on-stage antics…

The Girl:  i’m going to make The Boy go with me to see the show tonight.  i figure if we’re going to suffer retinal damage, we should do it together.

The Boy:  nothing personal, Mom.  but i’d rather be punched in the nuts than see you topless on stage.  i’m gonna have to pass on this one…

The Girl: [via text message after Act I] nice rack

The Boy: [when i suggested that he just look away during that scene] but there would be naked chicks up there!  i’d have to look…

The Girl: [after the show] where the hell did you get that wig?  why do you have it?  oh, god… don’t tell me.  i don’t want to know…

…. and they said there’s nothing i can do to embarass them! ha!

Pardon me, have you seen my dreams?

I seem to have temporarily misplaced them.

At the cast party tonight, I had a chance to talk with the performers about things other than the show.  Most of them are in their early 20’s, and in college.

Most striking was the clarity with which they could articulate their dreams.  Their lives awaiting, they are just starting out.  Many of them expect to be working on stage, film or television – not stardom, necessarily, but expect to make a living in the performing arts.

Others?  A life of meaning as a counselor, guiding lost souls.  A beautiful young woman majoring in chemical engineering in order to develop “green” technologies – looking forward to a lifetime hobby in theater (hmmm…..).  Another is a youth theater program director – aspiring to grow the program through grants to do more community outreach for troubled youth.

There is nothing they aren’t willing to tackle.  No doors are closed.  Just like the tribe members they portray in the show, they expect to change the world.  Granted, many of them are comfortable taking a meandering path to get there, and are in no hurry to move out of their parents homes. That’s the Generation Y thing…. 

Got me thinking…

Continue reading

i got life…

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.

i got life

This just in…

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…

Some things never change…

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!

Mom:  ………