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

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A lot of things have been happening lately. First, I’ve been exhausted. I think it’s simply because it takes me hours to fall asleep every night and I’ve had to get up pretty early every morning. I’ve always had trouble falling asleep and I’ve managed to get through my days. But I was so tired yesterday that, though I did sell the most I’ve ever done during a work shift, I wanted to cry from exhaustion. So on my way out of the store, I bought some melatonin tablets (a.k.a sleeping pills.) I had already put in a lot of research as to whether it would react with my anti-depressants (no) and if they were safe in general (yes.) Still, I was nervous about taking them; just like anti-depressants, it was a step I didn’t want to have to take. But didn’t want to have another day like the past few exhausting weeks. So last night, I nervously took a dose of melatonin. For once, I didn’t toss and turn for hours and I feel more refreshed and well-rested today than I have in weeks.

A few months ago, my former playwriting professor and thesis mentor asked me to meet him on campus. When I did, he said he had written a new script and was thinking of me to play one of the characters. I was really excited and flattered by the idea, but months passed with no word about the project. I e-mailed him and asked if I had missed the boat, and he assured me I had not. Fast forward and I am part of the reading happening this Tuesday! It’s really exciting, but also really nerve wracking, because there will be a few people in the room that I admire very much, and the script is hard in parts. But I’m looking forward to it!

I’m also looking forward to seeing my play in Ohio in a little over a week! I’ve been getting more and more excited as time goes by. My mom and I are driving up the day before, and I just can’t wait to see a full production of my play done by the actors they chose.

Speaking of plays, I submitted a short play of mine to another Ohio theatre company for a production of one-acts in April. The form e-mail notifying me that my submission had been received said that I wouldn’t hear anything until February, so I put it in the back of my mind. But then today I got an e-mail saying that my play is has been accepted as one of three short plays being presented in a development workshop! So things are happening for my writing, which is great. Apparently they really like me in Ohio.

Aside

I Have a Cast!

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Just a few minutes ago, I was sent the cast list for my play, the one being done in Ohio. I am SO excited. I had some concerns about how it would be cast. The main concern was that at first it seemed like only children would be auditioning. This worried me since my play, though yes, a Peter Pan prequel, is not for children, despite there being children in the show.  But thankfully, all the roles have been cast age-appropriately. I don’t know any of the actors, obviously, but I’ve been assured by the producer that there’s some great talent in the show, so that’s really exciting. I think the hardest part of being a playwright is not being able to control, or even observe in the long term, the rehearsal process.

After receiving the cast list, I Facebook-stalked some of the people on it. The leading girl has the perfect look for the part, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s a fantastic actress, I trust that the director chose her for both reasons. The big shocker for me is that Peter is being played by a young boy. While obviously Peter IS a young boy, he’s so often cast with a young woman that that’s just the picture I have in my head (and how I cast it when I was working on this play in college.) It’ll be really different and awesome to see a young boy actually played by a young boy.

The last time I was produced (about three years ago, at this point), I was surprised upon seeing one of my two plays that three unscripted cast members had been added to the play. The director had her reason for casting them and they really added some nice moments to the show, which is why I’m really interested to see what is done with the “Neverland ensemble” that has been included in the cast. While I do have some control issues as a playwright, I also find it really exciting to see what directors do with my work. Sometimes they come up with stuff that’s better than anything I wrote.

The first read-through is happening in ten days. I wish I could be there, and I’m SO excited that this play is finally getting off the ground.

Too Many Opportunities?

Is that possible? I think it might be.

As I mentioned two posts ago, I just got a new job with a tourguiding company. After I officially had the job, I debated cancelling all of my interviews that I had that week. But I decided to go to them, in case the tours didn’t work out (I think my last job traumatized me; I seriously don’t trust anyone anymore.) I don’t think I’ll get the last box office job I talked about, simply because they didn’t like how clear I was that I wanted to have an acting career. It seems weird that a theatre would have that reaction, but that’s their prerogative, and it’s not an ideal position for me because of all the numbers.

I had another interview on Monday for a house management position at a big university in this area. To be honest, it’s not the type of job I usually go for, for the exact reason I never go for other non-acting theatre jobs: house management hours are actor hours. I expected the interview to go much like the box office meeting had gone. But the whole feeling of the interview was different. I sort of felt like I was being ganged up on at the box office interview; at this one, I had an actual conversation with the manager, who liked me because I was early, friendly, and wore a blazer (she told me this.) “As far as I’m concerned,” she said, “The job is yours.” I was stunned and shockingly excited. I didn’t think I actually wanted the job, but as it turns out, I really do. I get to use the natural bossiness I usually try to hide to direct a staff and I get to be in a theatre setting, even if all of the gigs aren’t of a theatrical nature. I got my hire letter today and I fully intend on accepting the position. I don’t think it’s enough money to allow it to be only one of two jobs, so as of now, I’ll be serving and touring as well as house managing. But it’s nice to feel enthusiastic about a non-acting job for once.

Then yesterday, I got a call from a restaurant I applied to a week or two ago. I was thrilled to be called, but I felt it would be wrong to interview when I had just been hired at the tours AND (unofficially, at that point) the university. So I said, “I’m really sorry, but I actually just got a job this week. Could you maybe keep my application on file, just in case?” (Again, I trust no one anymore.) I thought he would be miffed that I was giving up an opportunity, even though I couldn’t have known I would be hired elsewhere when I applied at this restaurant. Instead, he said, “We’d really like to bring you in. Can you come in this week?” So on Friday, I have another interview.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do if this restaurant job is genuinely attractive to me. I’m a very loyal person, and I would feel bad quitting the serving job I have now. I like my coworkers and my managers, I like singing, and I haven’t even been there a year. But if I want to take this new restaurant job, the serving job will have to be the one to go, because their hours will be the same. Honestly, it may come down to pay. I get paid very well at my serving jobs, compared to most waitresses, and I never forget that. But if this restaurant job pays better, and it’s a stationary workplace, and I wouldn’t be serving… that’s pretty alluring. Of course, I may be getting ahead of myself; this new restaurant might not want to hire me. But if they do, I’ll have some decisions to make.

Just to make things more complicated, today I found out about the PERFECT job for me. It’s so perfect, I don’t even want to say what it is. Suffice it to say that I got a headrush after reading about it, crafted my cover letter in a way that (I hope) screamed “HIRE ME!!!!” without the frothing-at-the-mouth enthusiasm I felt, and an hour after I applied, I worried that they had already put my application in the “no” pile. I’ve been driving myself crazy all day wondering whether they’ve gotten the email/read it/thought about it/were thinking of replying. If I don’t get this job, I’ll be truly heartbroken.

And then there’s the job I kind of doubt will ever pay me enough to be considered a job: I was hired by an online newspaper as a freelance writer, covering arts-related events at my alma mater. My first article was accepted and published on the site, but we’ll see how much of a job it ends up being.

None of this is anything to complain about, of course. In this economy, to have one job is lucky. To have this many opportunities is insane. I’m grateful for all of them, but I will have to pick and choose, and that kind of thing is hard for me. I don’t like quitting and I don’t like letting people down, even if it’s to take advantage of a new and/or better opportunity. What I need to remember is that I need to think about myself, not how I might hurt other’s feelings, especially since I think people usually understand when someone needs to move on.

Again, this could all be premature. But I am hoping that soon, I’ll be working jobs that are closer to what I love to do while still allowing me to do what I actually love to do.

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 🙂

Failure is Not Fatal Part 2

In the first post bearing this title, I talked about how my play had been cut from a short play festival. As I wrote, I was pretty upset, but not at all angry at the company. In fact, I thought I might even still go to the festival, because I read the other scripts and really liked them. The festival happened last night, and I almost didn’t go, not because I didn’t want to, but because November has been really, really emotionally bad for me and it’s been hard for me to force myself to leave my apartment at all (more about that in a few days.) In the end, though, I really did want to see the other plays, so I pulled myself away from my computer, put myself on a train, and went to the pub where the show was.

I thought it might be hard or awkward to find where to sit for the show, but an entire half of the place had been converted into a pseudo-stage/audience area. I went over to the bar and ordered some food and a drink, and as I was waiting for them, I decided that I’d go introduce myself to the producer/literary manager of the festival. I knew who she was because, besides her play being the first one I auditioned for post-graduation (on the day of graduation), I’ve also seen her at a million auditions. So I went over her and extended my hand, saying, “Hi, I’m Rachel-” “Hi! I know who you are! I’ve seen you at every EPA in Philadelphia! I’m giving you a hug! Hi!”

I was pleasantly stunned by this greeting. As I said, I knew who she was, but never expected her to remember me, and every time someone in the theatre world says they know who I am (usually from shows I’ve done), it just makes me feel awesome. She said how disappointed she was that they couldn’t do my play “because I just love it” and told me how the festival, which was supposed to be two days of two different line-ups of plays, ended up being one very scaled-down night because of losing actors and also, all but two of the 35+ plays were too awful to be presented. I could tell she was kind of embarrassed that the festival had taken such a turn, but as I stated in the sister entry, it’s better that she and the company chose to present four of the best prepared scenes instead of eight hurriedly-rehearsed or terribly written plays. The way they did it is a much smarter choice to keep up their fledgling company’s reputation.

After telling me all of this, she waved over a few people. “This is Rachel, playwright of Counterfactuals.” To be introduced as a playwright… there are no words for how great that felt. Even better was when one of the guys (whom I recognized from that audition) said, “Oh, God. I love your play. It’s so sad!” I also met the girl who was supposed to direct my play, who was super nice. As my food came up, the manager said, “Oh, and of course, you’re seeing the show for free, and you’re on our tab, so please, get drunk.”

Though I did not get drunk (my drink was ginger ale, and also, I was there alone and I think drinking alone is kind of sad), I did really enjoy the plays. Funnily enough, one of my favorites was a play that I didn’t like when I read it because I couldn’t picture it done any other way except with the two actors lying on the floor, saying their lines like they were completely stoned. But the way it was directed and acted made the play super funny and great, which goes to show that you never know.

I stayed at the pub for a bit after the show, sitting awkwardly at the table to myself. My mother’s instructions to make myself approachable were not to take out a book, or sit with my arms crossed, but sitting there sans books trying to figure out how to hold my arms just made me look sadder. And everyone- EVERYONE- had a significant other there. It’s not even that I was going there to pick up a guy (mostly because I don’t know how.) It’s that everyone had someone, and I was alone. So I did go home pretty soon after. Overall, though, the night was great, and seeing how nice the people were makes me think that maybe they will do my play someday.

Failure is Not Fatal, So They Say

Today has been quite, quite awful.

I got up this morning very excited- at four this afternoon, I was planning to go to the first rehearsal for my play, and I could not wait. After I got ready to go to the gym, I figured I’d check my e-mail while I ate breakfast. That’s when I saw the message:

“It is with a heavy heart I must tell you that we can no longer accommodate your play in our festival. In the past two days we’ve lost 5 actors, 2 replacements, and a director. Due to scheduling conflicts, we found no way to cast your show in time with a director who could take on the piece. I’m so sorry about this.”

I was shocked and really, really upset by this e-mail. I was also embarrassed. I’d told so, so many people that I was being produced, from my parents to my professors to my college friends to my friends that are themselves very successful playwrights. They were all excited for me and a handful of them were even going to come to see the play. And now I had to un-tell them.

I think the worst part of this whole thing is that I can’t blame the theatre company. As you can see in the message above, what happened was completely out of their control. Even as I was driving to the gym to work off my frustration and desperately thinking, “But I know a ton of actors and directors. I am an actor! I can make this happen!” I realized that the writer of the e-mail was right. The festival is in ten days, and that’s not enough time to cast the right people in the roles with a director who is enthusiastic or at least appropriate for the piece. And, I decided after this realization, I would rather wait and have the piece produced with care then demand, or try myself, to have it produced so quickly. It would probably be worse for a half-baked piece to go up than to wait for the right time for this play to be done.

And it could be done. The company has asked to hold on to not only this play, but another one I sent them for the same festival. They said they really like them and “will definitely be in touch.” I’m taking this all with a grain of salt; in theatre, there are no promises. I may never hear from these people again. But I hope I do.

I sent out an e-mail to everyone (well, almost everyone) that I had invited to the festival, telling them that if they came, they would not see my piece onstage. It was really painful. But I did get an encouraging message from my playwriting mentor, who told me that these things happen (it’s happened to him four times, he wrote, and on a much bigger scale) and that it was not a small thing for my play to be considered ready to present publicly by a theatre company who knew nothing about me. This, more than anything else, made me feel a lot better.

But my day was not over yet. Oh, no. When I got home from the gym, I looked around my messy side of the room and decided to be productive and clean it. I threw all the stuff off my bed to make it and picked up my phone to see if my mom or anyone else had texted me, since I was in the middle of two conversations. What I found were two messages, from two different people, with information about my tourguide job. Oh, yes. It was 1:10 and apparently, I was supposed to be leading a tour that started at 12:45.

My mind has never been filled with more bad words, and I can’t believe they didn’t tumble out of my mouth when I called Beth and asked her what was going on and she said, “Aren’t you leading a tour right now?” I was practically convulsing on my bed as I said, “oh my God” over and over again as tears poured down my face. It only got worse when she told me that when someone misses a tour, they usually get fired. Awesome. So in addition to NOT being a produced, I was also going to have to tell people that I got fired from my job, and also deal with the monetary repercussions of losing said job. (The best part of this is, my mom texted me the other day and asked me to bring some chocolate home for her when I met up  with my family for Thanksgiving and I thought, ‘How sad that I don’t have a tour this week. That would have been so convenient.’) Beth assured me that she would talk to Jane and they would call me by tonight.

I spent a good portion of the day crying; my eyes are very, very dry right now. I was just getting over the embarrassment of suddenly not being produced and then this happened… and I couldn’t even blame it on anyone but myself and my dyscalculia. Because, just as I spent the entirety of every math class doing, I had written a number down wrong, and now I was going to be fired for it. Every time my phone made a noise, I would rush to check it. Finally, I got a message from Jane, saying that Beth had explained what had happened and everything was fine; I still had my job. THANK GOD.

However upset I was today- and still am, about the play- I constantly tried to put things into perspective. No, I wasn’t being produced. But I hadn’t lost any money on the play. It wasn’t rejected because of the quality of the writing or anything else that I did. There was no marquee that I was suddenly being taken off of. While I was in employment limbo, I told myself that I do have another job. And every time I was tempted to think or say, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER,” I reminded myself that not only have I certainly had worse days, but that one of my friends lost her mother today, and that my situation could certainly not be called worse than hers; my mother was texting me encouraging words from work. And as if it was meant to be, I just happened upon the following quote, which gives me hope:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston Churchill

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