East Meets West: All the World’s A Stage- But You’d Better Work for the Applause
The summer of my fateful time on the Rock, I got to spend my Friday and Saturday nights in July and August up on Signal Hill bellowing iambic pentameter to the Atlantic in part of Shakespeare by the Sea’s King Lear as the contemptuous murderess Regan.
To say it fucking ruled is a (crass) understatement; I was smitten. We were only rained out once (it was like playing Regatta Roulette twice a week!) and Mother Nature, that showy mink often instead on joining the cast whether it be kicking up the wind for when poor ole’ Lear would lose his marbles in the storm or have timing so good it was sickening (like being rolling fog when the text actually dictated that fog was, in fact, rolling in.)
I was part of a cast of people that challenged me and supported me and whom I laughed with deeply (here’s looking at you, Jill). My favorite review came from my editor (before he was my editor) Kris, “I have no idea what happened, but I loved when you stabbed that bitch!” See? Fucking ruled.
Back in February, the same time that Van was having its Snowmagedon, I found myself pouring over Shakespeare once again memorizing lines for an audition. And wouldn’t you know it; I got myself a part in the ancient Greek Tragedy Agamemnon as the contemptuous murderess Clytemnestra. Theme? No way! This time I was playing a queen, not a princess, thank you very much, sheesh.
Drum roll please, I hadn’t done a play in seven years, SINCE I lived in Newfoundland. Yes, yes, I’d done some student films and been in class and had plenty of auditions, it’s not like I was completely out of the game, but your girl was rusty. It was a small cast and I was easily the old bag of the group, (we’re talking a decade up on some castmates).
The fun twist of fate; I was, without a shadow of a doubt the greenest member of the cast. Cute. I was deeply insecure. I doubted pretty much all of my abilities. This was a new part of my process and I really did NOT care for it. Sure, it was an opportunity for growth but still, no likey. Show week I paced the hallways, a lot. I peed even more than I paced. Never have a been a stress peer, I don’t recommend it, it's very dehydrating.
Wait a tick, was I or was I not playing the part of someone who was a motherfucking queen? Did I or did I NOT have multiple years of life/heart experiences that I could use to my advantage? I already knew I was a smoke show. My corset that was cinched to the gods (thanks again Carmen!) Already knew what energies I was inviting in to work with and allow to move through me.
Theatres are holy places for me. A place where the myths and archetypes are real. Transformation, alchemy, and yes I’ll say it, magic is throbbing with all the beauty and grace of LIFE. Before each show, I got to have time to myself in that holy space and have holy time with it, I’d pray. Not the prayers of great shows and thundering applause, prayers and hope and gratitude to remember why I am an actor, why I get that privilege, why I have to choose it again and again and allow it to keep choosing me.
So I trusted- my heart and instincts and training and presence and mindfulness, that MAGIC. And I roared. I was aggressive and raw and passionate, violent, angry and bloody. Things that don’t have too much place in the day-to-day but make for catharsis and efficacy and illicit shocked gasps from the audience. If we’re going to compare this to Beyoncé (cuz sure, why not, let’s really imbibe in an atrocious pile of hubris) this performance was my Lemonade with its instinctual scorn woman betrayal, protective mothering ferocity, and parental issues. Yet, with no reconciliation, this queen didn’t get back with her Hova, she killed him. (Just read the play, it makes sense, justified actions, it’s fine. Awful and limbo inducing but makes for good theatre.)
I haven’t written too much about this desire to be an actor, it is only slightly peppered through East Meets West. Not because I was hiding, rather, reclaiming myself.
I’ve allowed a lot to get in the way, to distract me from something I hold in deep reverence. The self-consciousness, the ego, the whatnot; oddly enough I’ve never had anyone tell me I couldn’t make it, however. Sure, I’m still working through some of the crap that prohibited me to bench myself for so long, but it’s all so different now, I’m different. For the better. But one thing remains; the undeniable passion and persistence in my pursuit of acting.
Bring it on. Too late, its already been broughten.