New York or Bust

The second of three storms passed through Philadelphia on Sunday night, effectively snowing everyone in. I did try to get to work in the morning, but was told to stay home, where I had my therapy session over Skype. But there was no getting out of work the next day, and it was then that winter defeated me: the snow had turned to ice, and as I was chipping it off my car roof (since the new law requires roofs to be clean) when my ice scraper broke in half. So I just hacked at the ice with the handle. I shoveled the snow from around and behind my car and got in to go to work… and couldn’t get past the ice the other cars had mashed down. So I pulled back into the driveway, stomped through the house three times to have enough salt to melt the ice, and threw it all over he ground while my Chinese neighbor watched.

The second time I tried to get out of the driveway, my car seemed to have forgotten how to go in reverse; when in that gear, the car went forward when I hit the gas. I was on the edge of a panic attack, crying and shaking and feeling like my head was full of buzzing bees. But thankfully, the third time I tried to leave, I managed it, even though it happened very slowly.

All that got me through the long, mediocre workday was the thought that this morning, I would be on my way to NYC for my birthday gift to myself: seeing Machinal on Broadway. In addition to getting to see an awesome show, I was also missing a work seminar that I wasn’t prepared for. But while at work, I got a message that my bus to New York had been cancelled. I bought a train ticket. Then I heard trains were shutting down and I started panicking. I didn’t want my ticket money for the show or the train to go to waste. And also I DID NOT WANT TO GO TO THE SEMINAR.

With the inextinguishable drive of a Jehovah’s Witness, I got on the (operating) subway, hoping that was a good sign. But when I got to 30th Street Station, there were no trains to New York because those were coming from Harrisburg, and all trains from the capitol were cancelled. My anxiety level was climbing, especially when I heard announcement after announcement saying that, because of the weather, any ticket would be accepted on any train. I went to the info desk and said, “I know all trains from Harrisburg are cancelled, but is there any way at all to get to New York?” As the guy behind the desk started to look it up, another guy came over and said, “The 614? That’s running.”

THANK GOD. I still wasn’t convinced I’d make it to New York in time to lunch with Molly, but at least I was going to New York. To my surprise, I got there in plenty of time, with no problems or delays. So I walked to the restaurant near Bryant Park where Molly and I were meeting. We had lovely conversation and delicious food before she had to go to the library and I to the show.

Between the weather and the fact that Machinal is almost a hundred years old and a play, the theatre was pretty empty. I got the most awesome usher who, when I asked if I could move down if no one took the closer seats, whispered, “Just go down now, as close as you want.” I stayed up in the mezzanine, but sat at the front, about seven rows closer than I had paid for.

The play was INCREDIBLE. I read it very quickly for a hurriedly-composed essay my senior year of college, but didn’t remember that much. But whatever I expected, the show was better. The acting was great, the revolving set was so ingenious and cool, the costumes were beautiful, and the sound design gave me chills. The script itself is very sparse, and, in the wrong hands, could be very awkward and jerky. But the combined efforts created a show that was staccato when it called for it but never unnatural. My favorite thing is that it made me FEEL what the main character was feeling. I didn’t just think, “Oh, she’s feeling trapped and scared,” I actually FELT trapped and scared. And when I left the theatre, I didn’t want to. I just wanted to find a quiet corner and think for awhile. It was a theatre experience that left me wonderfully dazed.

I got an early bus home after grabbing some dinner. My post-NYC low hit me, but not nearly as hard as it used to. It’s worse now, but again, not as bad as it’s been. It was nice to get away for a day and see a good friend and good theatre.

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Columbus Play Adventures Part 1

This weekend was The Weekend, when my first full-length play, my baby, was put up onstage for the first time.

I headed to my parents’ house on Tuesday and my mom and I left the next morning at nine. We stopped twice to eat/stretch and, after getting lost for awhile upon arriving in Columbus, got to our hotel around 6:30. We decided we wanted to go to Chipotle for dinner, since I love it and Mom had never been there, and Google Maps told me that it was a six minute walk up the road. Long story (and long walk) short, Google Maps lied. We stopped in an ice cream shop for directions and the employees told us that we were very far away from the restaurant. Some locals standing near us heard us talking and gave us amusedly disappointed looks. “There are so many better places to eat here than Chipotle, guys,” the woman told us. Then she and her husband led us to Betty’s, a restaurant/bar a block away. And as much as I love Chipotle, they were so right. We had some amazing hummus and I tried fish tacos (yum!)

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Signs in Betty’s

The next morning, we headed out to explore Columbus before opening night. We went to an area of the city called Short North, which had some really awesome boutiques. I bought way too many things while we were out- a nifty new hat (my ears were cold), some postcards, a notebook (I hadn’t brought mine, figuring I’d just take a pad from the hotel room, but we weren’t given any), some chili chocolate, and a Bell Jar shirt. While I did want all of these things, I also think I was trying to distract myself from my steadily building nerves.

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Legzzzzz

While my mom and I were exploring a great vintage shop (which housed many pairs of amazing shoes), I got a Facebook message on my phone. I didn’t know who it could be, considering that most of the people I talk to aren’t usually online at 12:30 on a weekday. It was the director of my show. “Hey,” she wrote. “I heard you’re in town. I just wanted to let you know that we had an emergency last night and may not be able to put the show up until tomorrow night.”

My heart dropped to my shoes. We had come all the way to Columbus to see my show and now it wasn’t even opening that night? I wasn’t at all mad at the director or cast- an emergency can’t be helped- and I wasn’t feeling badly about myself; I was just disappointed. And at first, that’s all it was, just a slight feeling of being let down. But as the day wore on, I started to get sad. Then I got sadder. I started to say how sad I was out loud to see if it would make me feel better (only a little.) Because while no one had said the run was cancelled, I was afraid that’s what was going to happen. This fear doesn’t come from nowhere; last year, a short play of mine was supposed to be produced and then got cancelled two weeks before opening. This afternoon, my mom remarked how I hadn’t put anything on Facebook about opening night being postponed and I said, “I can’t handle being the girl who cried ‘Production!’ twice. I didn’t even want to get into it.”

Even though I knew I wouldn’t be seeing the show that night, my nerves didn’t go away. I texted my friend and fellow playwright Molly. “I am freaking out,” I wrote. “Is this normal?!” She wrote back, “YES. You will likely be freaking out all night.” And even without actually seeing my play, I was. Mom and I went out for pizza and I fell off my chair at the restaurant, then, a few minutes later, spilled my soda all over the table. The waitress asked me if I was drunk. Nope… just a nervous wreck.

This morning, I woke up in a bit of a doom-and-gloom mood. I was convinced that my play was never going to premiere. When we stopped for a snack his afternoon, I said to my mom, “If it gets cancelled tonight, can we go to the matinee tomorrow? I can’t leave not having seen it. Not after we came all this way.” All day, as we toured the beautiful German Village area of the city, I was praying that my phone didn’t go off with a text or Facebook message, sure it would be from the director, and every time I received a text from anyone at all, I jumped about a foot in the air.

But finally, it was too late in the day for the show to be cancelled for tonight. Instead of going out to dinner, Mom heated up some chicken fingers she had pre-made. I could only eat one and a half, I was so nervous. We got into our theatre-wear and headed for the youth center where the show was being held. Ten minutes before the show, hardly anyone was in the audience and I was really nervous that no one else would show up, but in the end, there were probably about sixty people at the show.

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Posters by the bunch

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Performance venue!

The set was very typical of a community theatre (no frills, simple sets and costumes) and so was the acting (most performances being okay, with some excellent stands outs) but what I cared about was the script and whether it worked. The show began and the first scene- done in complete darkness except for a light in a jar- looked exactly as I had pictured. And while the times the words I wrote were dropped, either because they were too fast, too quiet, or forgotten (which sometimes happened in large chunks) made me sad, I was in general happy with the way the show went. I wasn’t there to review the show; I was there to see how my script worked for timing and story, and I was able to do that. I took a lot of notes on what worked and what didn’t, and the audience was really responsive, which helped, too. One of the best moments happened at the very end of the show during Peter’s last line. The actress fumbled the line, saying the main character Mary’s name instead of her daughter Wendy’s, but it actually made the scene even more poignant and made me catch my breath, and now I want to look at the moment and see if the change will work. I don’t know if it will fit in the long run, but that’s why I, as a playwright, love to see actors actually perform my work- often they do or say things differently than I had in my head and it turns out to be so much better than I imagined.

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Peter and Mary in one of my favorite scenes.

I’m such a control freak that I can’t believe playwriting works for me. Usually I’m the kind of person that wants everything the way I have in my head, but oddly, I completely accept that the world I’ve constructed might be totally different than I think it “should” be. I’m fine with a simplistic set, or few costume changes, or colorblind casting, or what people will think of my words. Somehow, I’m able to accept that in the hands of a few dozen people I’ve never met, my play will become what they make of it.

Interestingly, one part of any kind of backstage work rings true for me as a playwright as well: the complete panic when someone drops a line and I know what it is. I’ve experienced this as a stage manager and assistant stage manager, and now as a playwright, and it’s just the worst thing because I can’t do anything about it. At least as an actor, you can work toward or around the line the actor dropped. I was also surprised that I knew what the lines were tonight; even though I haven’t looked at the script in months, I’ve spent so much time with it over the past three and a half years that it’s imprinted on my brain.

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Peter and Mary

At the end of the show, the director told the two lead actresses that I was there and I got to say hi to them. They were great and wonderful to talk to, and it’s funny to be on the other side of the experience. I kind of wish I had been in this position before I was the actor trying to please the playwright, because then I would have known that it wasn’t really about that! For me, tonight was about the amazing fact that a bunch of people read and memorized my words and put six weeks of rehearsing, set building, composing, and general hard work into something that three and a half years ago was just a few scenes in the “PP Play” folder on my computer, with me dreaming of having it produced one day. It makes me want to cry from happiness just thinking about it. I am so glad to have had this experience, and it felt great at the end to have people who heard I was the playwright come over and tell me how much they enjoyed the play and that they could see a future for it. I am proud of myself and my work on this night.

sotmprog

What Teaching Taught Me

I have a lot of funny anecdotes that I could tell from my last eight weeks as a drama teacher. I also have a lot of stories about children horribly misbehaving. But the overarching theme, as well as the point of telling any of them at all, would be that teaching has taught me a lot, about theatre, but also about myself:

1) I am not ready to teach on my own. My coteacher was sick one day and working on a show for a few others, and while I got through the day without the kids suspecting it, I was totally stressed all day.

2) I really like teaching kids. I always have, but this really showed me that I can do it for longer than a week. Though I did get frustrated when they misbehaved, that was a very select few, and happened rarely. Kids are so smart and creative, and what’s especially apparent in drama classes is that they’re not afflicted with the inhibitions that are ingrained into us as we hit our teens.

3) Kids like me and I am able to communicate with them, probably because I treat them like intelligent people instead of talking to them like dogs (hands on knees, high pitched voice, etc. Kids know what you’re doing and also know how stupid it is.)

4) I can teach new things. For most of my eight weeks, I was very much the assistant teacher: helping with demonstrations, being the example, etc. But the day my co-teacher was sick, it was a day when I had one group, two different times, and I was out of games that they could play. So over my lunch break, I looked up some games. Many of them weren’t appropriate for the age group, but I found one that might work, tweaked it a little and, after recycling a few games with them, introduced this one. They LOVED it and we played it for the rest of class, and it ended up being in the show.

5) I am bad at judging the abilities of an age group. This is a problem I’ve always had, even in high school. I either over or underestimate the abilities of an age group. This is a problem with general age groups and me, so forget when I have a group of kids that are the same age AND have a great difference in abilities. So while I successfully taught a great new game to one group, the group that was older than them ended up doing it for the show because they were better at it.

6) Teaching forces me out of my comfort zone in a good way. I have always been insecure about doing physical/movement stuff, even though it’s been a focus of my training since freshman year of high school. We did a lot of movement these last eight weeks, especially the second session, which was completely movement-based. I was terrified, but I had to teach the kids, so I had to get over it. And suddenly, I saw that not only can I do physical stuff, I’m actually pretty good at it.

This teaching job is the best on I’ve had since I graduated. I almost forgot it was a job most of the time because I enjoyed it so much. It’s great to connect with students; one of our kids said this past Thursday, “You know what I like about you guys? You’re like kids in adult bodies. You like to play.” And it’s true, I do; this job allowed me to do that AND make more money than I’ve made at my other jobs. While I’m not ready to teach solo yet, I certainly won’t balk at the very idea of teaching at all, from now on.

Bye Bye, Sarah…

It’s been five days, almost to the hour, since I closed Time Stands Still.

I mentioned in my first entry about the show how scary it was because it was a challenging show. Three days before the performance, however, I was scared for another reason: people still did not know their lines. Because I was so scared by the script, I had my lines memorized really REALLY early, so it was frustrating and terrifying to me that just days before the show, I was still begging my costars to run parts of scenes with me because cues weren’t being picked up. I wanted so badly for the show to be good, and by the day of the last rehearsal, the show seemed to have fallen apart. But during the final rehearsal itself, the show kind of fixed itself. It wasn’t perfect, but being a superstitious theatre person, I was okay with that.

I think that, barring shows at my college, this was the show where I had the most people coming to see me. This made me both more nervous and more excited, and backstage before the matinee, my heart was beating so fast and all I could say was “I’m so nervous. I’m so nervous.”

The first show- which was attended by mom, my friends Kara and Meg, and my therapist- went pretty well. All throughout the rehearsal process, our director had been trying to get us to pick up the pace, and our nerves finally made us do that. The show itself is very emotional, but my character is not, and the electric charge of the show was making me feel intense emotions that I had to work not to show. My mom and I had dinner together before I had to report back to the theatre to have my gruesome makeup retouched. The second show- which was seen by my significant other and my friends Jamie, Maria, and Jackie- went just as well as the first. Since that was our final show, I missed saying lines as soon as they left my mouth. I could feel Sarah slipping away from me, and when I exited after my bow, I started crying.

Something that amazed me was that when people came over to me after the show and told me that I did a great job, I felt like I deserved it. Usually I’m really awkward about receiving compliments about my performances, but I just wasn’t this time.

This show has been such a growing experience for me. While I always work hard during shows, I really pushed myself for this one. I was terrified that I wouldn’t know my lines on time, so I used every spare moment and was memorized ten days early.  Even with my three weeks of bronchitis/cold/recovery, I did what I could to lower my vocal register and make myself sound older. I tried to be more in my body, unlike the awkward 20-something that I am. I learned how to walk with crutches and a cane and how to do a stunt fall while wearing a leg brace, without hurting myself. I researched PTSD and the locations where Sarah travels to for work. I put SO much work into this part and I feel like it came through, at least for the most part, in my performance. Finally during the last few days, I felt like I was skillfully playing a woman sixteen years my senior. For the first time in my life, I thought, without prompting, “I am a good actor.” And that in itself is a huge step.

I miss the show like crazy. I miss playing Sarah and I miss playing opposite my costars. I miss rehearsals to look forward to after a long day of teaching and I miss writing about Sarah and her life in my notebook. I just miss it.

Aside

Dream Role

In mid-January, I had an audition for a theatre season. This theatre is about an hour away from where I live, between Philadelphia and my hometown, and it is non-paying. Usually, these auditions are the kinds I don’t- or rather, can’t- attend, because in my position (poor), I really can’t afford to do non-paying theatre. But I went anyway, and for one reason only: they were doing Brighton Beach Memoirs.

Brighton Beach Memoirs is an old favorite of mine. Actually, it’s an old obsession of mine, and no matter how much my college advisor teases me about my love for Neil Simon, I still love the playwright and his work, Brighton Beach Memoirs in particular. Maybe it’s my love of family dramas, maybe because it takes place in the 1940s, or maybe because sixteen year-old Nora and I are almost the same person, especially when I was sixteen. Whatever the reason, it has always been a goal of mine to play her. So even though the audition at this theatre was for a whole season (and a good one at that, with many parts appropriate for me), I was there to get a callback for BBM.

My audition went very, very well, and finally, at the very beginning of February, I got the call I’d been waiting for: I was called back for the role of Nora. But as with most acting situations, the moment you get what you want, you start freaking out about all the ways you could mess it up. In fact, the morning of the callback, the ninth, I woke up nervous and thought that I’d rather skip the audition and fail like that, then try and get rejected again. Because this is not the first time I’ve tried out for this role. No, this callback would be attempt #3 at getting the part. One of those attempts was for the Broadway show. The first time I lost the part, it was an issue of height- I am 5’3″, and the girl they wanted for Laurie (the younger sister) was taller than I was, so they went with the other girl. It was a huge fear of mine that I would walk into this callback and see all of these 5’6″ Lauries and I’d be cut on sight.

The idea of being cut on sight is not a completely unfounded one. With family dramas like this one, it’s at least a little important that the family members look alike. In fact, the first thing they did when the callback began at 11:45 that day was herd all twenty of us into the room, split us into character groups, and have us line up in one long, straight line. Then the director called out the name of one actor per character and had that smaller group stand in front of him as he looked them over as a family. I was relieved to see that all of the Lauries were 5′ or under, but I still tried to stand up really straight when put next to one of them. After doing this for awhile, the director paired up Noras and Lauries and sent us out of the room to read over the scenes.

When my Laurie and I were called in, I was actually pretty relaxed. The scene involved a big Nora monologue, but I just reminded myself to take my time and focus on the work, not getting the part. I had an idea of how I wanted the scene to end- on a funny note- and  we were rewarded with a hearty laugh from the director when we reached the conclusion: exactly what I had been going for. After that, it was a lot of the waiting game. I tried to read my book while the mothers went in and read a scene, but all I could focus on was the fact that the Lauries were being sent home and all the Noras were being paired off with mothers for their next scene… except me. Reading my book was impossible; I just sat there bouncing my legs up and down and hoping I hadn’t been cut- or worse, forgotten. Finally, the assistant came out and paired me with a woman named Robin, handing us our scripts and giving us the page numbers. I knew what scene it was: the big blow-up between Nora and Blanche, my favorite scene in the show.

Robin and I took it down the hall to work on it. I was really worried about over-rehearsing it. The scene is a doozy, involving an argument and a lot of tears on Nora’s part. I wasn’t so much worried about getting the tears, because I understand Nora completely and feel her pain in that scene, but about crying myself out before actually getting into the room. But the scene gets me every time. Even when I was sitting there earlier listening to the other Noras read the part, I was crying. So even though I wanted to save my tears for the room, I still cried. After the first read through, Robin asked me if I was okay and I said, “Yes. I just love this scene. I really want this part,” and she said, “I know. I can tell,” and gave me a hug. I think she and I were well-matched; we had similar styles and she understood my fear of over-rehearsal.

We were called in and read through the scene and I think I was way too concentrated on getting it “right”; at one point, I had to pull myself back from being too over-dramatic, or maybe just too dramatic, too soon. In the end, I cried more than I had during rehearsal, but instead of feeling overdone or out of place, like I was afraid it might, it felt really good. The director looked really, really happy when we finished and handed him our scripts. He told us that we might not know about casting for a few weeks- they had another round of callbacks the next weekend. This was even more nervous-making than the callback I’d just attended; at least at that one, I could size everyone up, and they could pull us in to assess our chemistry and looks against each other. But a whole weekend of callbacks where they might forget about us?

Now it’s April and I haven’t heard a peep about this show. Lately this theatre has taken to posting the cast lists on Facebook, but the one for BBM isn’t there. At this point, I’m assuming I don’t have the part, but I want it so badly that there’s a tiny part of me that is still waiting for the phone to ring. The show is in July, so there IS time for them to still call, even though it’s unlikely. I wish they would post the list so I would know for sure. I’m quite upset that I didn’t have the part. The callback went SO well, well enough that I actually expected to get the role. Time is running out for me to play Nora and I wish this time, it was my turn.

The Guy on the Bus Fondled My Knee (And Other New York Tales)

Yesterday, I arose at five a.m. BY CHOICE. For those of you who know me and have seen how I react when the sun first wakes me, this will probably shock you. I like my sleep (especially lately, when it’s been eluding me.) But I did climb out of bed before the sun was awake and got ready to go to NEW YORK!

I actually get up at five (or earlier) to go to New York fairly often, for auditions. But this time, I was not headed to an audition, but to my friends Molly and Ryan’s apartment to hang out before going to see one of Molly’s short plays in a one-night event. I’ve wanted to go to one of these monthly shows for awhile, and since I’m super free due to, you know, not working at all, I figured I’d at least fill my time with something.

So I got a window seat on the bus, hoping I could sleep a little bit. At the very last second, this guy around my age took the free seat next to me. I tried to sleep the whole way to the city because I knew I’d probably be out late that night and didn’t want to be dead on my feet. For a lot of the bus ride, I was leaning against the window with my eyes closed, listening to music, and the guy’s heavy canvas coat kept drifting onto my leg. I didn’t really think much of it or do anything about it; buses are close quarters, and it was just a jacket, and as a bonus, it was keeping my leg warm. But at one point, the coat was heavy enough that I was thought, ‘Obviously, the guy is asleep and it’s fallen on me. I’ll just make sure it doesn’t look like I’m stealing it.’ But when I went to move the jacket… it wasn’t the jacket, but his hand. On my knee.

For as much as I wish I weren’t, I’m a very naive, trusting person. I sincerely thought this was an accident. I didn’t look at him as I inched my knee out from under his hand, so I don’t know if he was asleep/pretending to be asleep/mooning at me, whatever. I just sat closer to the window. But then it happened again! I moved away a second time because I was wearing tights, not pants, so there wasn’t much between his skin and mine. I put my own hand on my knee, hoping that would sort of scare him away… and it didn’t. He took that as an invitation to touch my hand instead. I hadn’t been weirded out before, but that definitely did it.

When the bus stopped at the first drop-off point, my seatmate asked if I was getting off the bus. I asked him which street we were on, he told me, and I said no, I wasn’t. That was our only verbal communication on the trip. When we got to the place where we were both disembarking, he went to get his bags and I, having kept mine with me, went looking for a subway entrance. I found one, and guess who was standing at the top of the stairs? My bus buddy. “You going on subway?” he asked in his Asian accent. I said yes and he walked down the stairs next to me, then waited as I bought my Metrocard. The entire time I had my card out, I was thinking, ‘Oh, so THIS is the day I get mugged,’ and held onto my wallet very tightly. He accompanied me through the turnstile and asked where I was going. “To visit my friends,” I told him. “You have time for a coffee?” he asked. This took me by surprise and I think it was a few seconds before I replied, “No, my friends are waiting and I don’t want to be late.”

But he was not deterred. He asked me again where I was going. “Queens,” I told him. He kept after me as I figured out which line I had to take, and when I found the signs directing me there, I saw that they were leading me to an elevator. As nice as this guy seemed, NO WAY was I getting into an elevator by myself with him. “You know what?” I said as he walked speedily to the elevator. “I think I’m going to take the stairs.” And he followed me there, too. As we stood waiting for my train, he tried to get more details about where I was going, eventually asking for my phone number. I said no,trying to be as nice as possible because I have to be nice even to the strange men that stalk me into subway stations. Thank God, when my train pulled up, he did not follow me onto it. While I’m sure he was a nice guy, I think I would have freaked out if I had to ride the subway with him, because then he might have followed me all the way to Molly and Ryan’s, which would not have been good.

The last few times I’ve been to NYC, my bus has been super late getting in, and I didn’t want to show up on their doorstep two hours later than proposed, so I had gotten an earlier bus, and since, after I ditched my suitor, the subway didn’t take the hour MTA Trip Planner predicted, I actually ended up standing outside their door a bit earlier than expected, wondering if I should press the bell. (You have to remember that these are the friends of whom I am big fans. I had to act “right.”) I did, of course, press it, and Molly came down to get me. It was really cool to see their apartment- I’m kind of obsessed with seeing where other writers do their writing. They have tons of books, the titles of which I spent a long time tilting my head sideways to read. It was very much a fly-on-the-wall day for me as they finished up various chores, but that was fine with me. Ryan was finishing up some work, so after getting lunch, Molly and I wandered around some Williamsburg shops, and now I have a huge list of books that I need to get when I have an income again. Then we headed to a Manhattan arts company building  for the rehearsal of Molly’s short play.

I thought it might be weird for me to be sitting in on the rehearsal, since I obviously only knew Molly, but her director and her two actors were super nice to me, and when we all headed to to the theatre together for tech, we were all making conversation and they were really easy to talk to. It helps that two of them were really familiar with Philadelphia, and we talked about everything from the Fringe to the King of Prussia mall to the drag bar I once went to for my friend’s bachelorette party. Molly was very apologetic that I had to sit through tech and offered me some free wine to get through it, but it was only cue-to-cue and only about 45 minutes long, and I was just really excited to be at that show. Though I have obviously been through a million techs for my own shows, I always feel super special when I get to see other people’s tech.

Tech did run a little long, though, so there wasn’t time to go anywhere to get food. Instead, I just hung out in the lobby with Molly and and a few of her friends. The company had thought that they’d be able to squeeze a bazillion people into the theatre, as they usually do for these standing-room-only shows, but a fire marshal had been sent to make sure that no more than 72 people were sitting in the theatre. Because I had gotten there for tech, I got a seat, but there were 20 people who actually watched the show from the lobby (they got free wine, though, throughout the entire show, so I don’t think they were too put out.)

I really enjoyed the show. The basic premise of the event was that all of the playwrights were given a theme two Sundays ago and had a few days to write a script, and then they gave it to their actors and director. Because it’s script-in-hand, they playwrights are allowed to make changes basically right up until the actors make their first entrance. After the show, on the train home, one of Molly’s friends (who is a fantastic playwright himself, but had not taken part in the show) said that he wasn’t terribly impressed with the quality of the plays, but I enjoyed all but a few of them. While yes,  the quality of the writing wasn’t awesome, I also kept in mind that these plays were written in a week- probably less- and rehearsed in even less time. And to be honest, a few of them, and Molly’s especially, were in a state that mine are lucky to see after months of revision. Even with the ones I didn’t like, I tried to put myself into their shoes; my own play probably wouldn’t have been much better. In any case, I really enjoyed the show.

Afterward, I went to my very first dive bar. I don’t know what dive bars are supposed to be like, but this one was pretty nice, and dogs were allowed inside, so there was a Bernese Mountain Dog hanging out by the ATM. I don’t think I’ll ever feel the need to get drunk, but last night, I really did not feel like being the awkward of-age girl sipping a Coke. So I decided to put my pride aside and ask Molly for help in choosing a drink. She suggested a few, and in the end, I ordered a vodka cranberry. And you know what? I actually liked it! So now I finally have something I can order and know that I won’t be wasting my money on something I can’t stomach.

After about an hour of hanging out there, Molly, two of her friends (who live right around the corner from her and Ryan), and I left for home. Again, I marveled at the fact that I was walking through the streets of New York laughing with two playwrights I admire. When we got back to Molly and Ryan’s place, Molly made some pasta for us because she hadn’t had anything since lunch and then at 1 a.m., it was time for bed. Running around from five in the morning til one in the morning certainly solved my not-being-able-to-sleep problem. I was out the second I laid down.

Today was spent completely in their apartment. At first, Molly and I were going to go to a cafe and write, but in the end, the coffee in their apartment was free and neither of us got around to changing out of our pajamas (I only changed eventually because I had to go home.) So Ryan went out and got us some breakfast sandwiches and he worked on a lecture and Molly did a book review and I worked on a play. It was really nice and I got some good (well, hopefully good) work done. When three o’clock arrived, I sadly had to leave. I wish I could have stayed forever and ever because I had a such a great time, but sadly, that can’t be done (mostly because I would feel bad making them keep an air mattress where their kitchen table usually is.) But for the first time in recent NYC trip memories, the real life truck did not hit me in the face on the way home. I actually have some stuff (which is stressful stuff, but in a good way) to look forward to this week. I was also all aglow with happiness because I got a frantic e-mail from a director whom I love and who cast me in my first Equity show four years ago, asking me if I would be willing to step into the assistant stage manager spot for a show that opening tomorrow night. In the end, I wasn’t able to do it and they found someone else, but it was a completely unexpected e-mail and I was shocked and flattered that he thought of me.

So all in all, bus stalkers aside, it has been a fantastic two days. I’m so glad I was able to go up to see the show and my friends 🙂

Awesome Plays and the Real Life Truck

On Thursday after a 9:30 am rehearsal, I set of for New York City for a trip I’d been looking forward to for awhile: seeing a play that was written by my friend Ryan. Though I’ve read some of his work and loved it, I’ve never seen any of it onstage, and I really wanted to. So at 2:30, I hopped on a Megabus headed for the city that never sleeps.

The bus was a little late, and my hotel, picked for its proximity to the theatre, was quite far from the drop-off point. Even though I didn’t get lost, it took me about forty-five minutes to walk there, so between the late arrival and the long walk, I only had time to drop off my stuff, make myself look presentable, and grab half of my sandwich before I needed to head to the theatre.

The theatre itself is small and homey. It was a little awkward being there by myself because I felt like everyone knew everyone else, but about half an hour after I arrived, my friend Molly (who is Ryan’s girlfriend and an amazing playwright as well) got there with her mom and brother and I was no longer alone.

The play was so amazing. I knew it was going to be well-written, but the acting was amazing, too, and the audience as a whole was really responsive. I love it when I forget I’m watching a play. All in all, it was just really inspiring, and I love being able to support my friends and theatre and see plays in general, especially plays I can’t see every day.

Afterward, Molly invited me to go out with them, which was awesome. Though I count both of them as my friends, I was a fan of their writing before I got up the nerve to talk to them, so I get a little bit flustered in their presence. But if they notice, they don’t let on and treat me like I’m a sane equal, though I definitely don’t act like one. We had a lovely dinner with Molly’s mom and brother and it was just a wonderful night.

My hotel was super awesome- very European, kind of like my flat in London. I let myself sleep in the next morning, and for the first time in awhile, I felt totally relaxed and rejuvenated. Apparently NYC trips just do that for me.

But just as with my last trip there, almost as soon as I returned, the Real Life truck hit me… a few times. I knew I would be busy, but my schedule blew up in a terribly stressful way that had me in tears. Can’t I just stay in blissful NYC trip mode forever?

At the same time, though, I don’t think I see my life clearly. I don’t see myself as having achieved very much since I graduated, but Molly said a few times, “You’re doing so well!” and every time, I thought, ‘Am I?’ Am I?

Thankfully, things are working themselves out slowly, but I would much rather be hanging out with cool playwrights/friends and seeing plays.

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