Monday, August 31, 2009

Just Add Salt

My name appeared in our local paper this Sunday for the emerging theater I am working with. I was labeled as a "seasoned stage and screen actor." That made me giggle, but then it made me say "HEY!! Doesn't seasoned mean old?" I'm OLD??!!! I don't know that I would describe myself that way, but I guess they are trying to make me look like someone you would want to take classes from.

It made me think of my experience with Summer Stock when I was in college. I was lucky enough to work with the oldest continuously running summer theater in the state. It was an incredible amount of work for very little pay, but it did a lot for my self-esteem. For you see, I am one of the only BA theater majors from my college to never have been cast in a stage show. Sad, but true. I made some mistakes my freshman year because I was working 3 jobs to pay for college and that labeled me as "undedicated." I was never able to overcome that. Eventually I began to internalize it as "untalented."

But I went to the theater alliance association auditions which cast summer programs for all over the state, and I was accepted to several. I chose the one I ended up at because of the season. They were doing Glass Menagerie, Guys and Dolls and You Can't Take It With You. In my beaten state I thought, well, I should be able to get some good chorus experience with Guys and Dolls. So I went, auditioned for the specific shows and something amazing happened. The lead director took me aside privately and told me that I was wanted for both the part of Laura in Menagerie AND the part of Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. But this was a training program and they couldn't cast me in both. Which one did I want?

I was floored. Here I thought I sucked and they were offering me not one but TWO dream roles. I chose Laura because I am a huge fan of Tennessee Williams. The role of Adelaide went to the only other person from my college at that program. At home she was extremely popular among the faculty but only got bit parts at school. And you know what...SHE WAS HORRIBLE AS ADELAIDE. They cast her because she looked the part. Think tall, willowy Marilyn Monroe-esque. But they didn't catch onto the fact that she was tone deaf. She had sung a prepared song for the auditions, not one chosen at random, so she appeared good.

The rehearsals for the musical were painful and the director started pulling his hair out. Adelaide, while not the lead, was important to the show. She had to sing. So the director started staging me as close to her as he could and had me sing behind her to keep her on pitch. I felt bad for her, since I had been struggling at school and knew what it was like to have everyone think you had no talent. I tried to help her as best I could and we managed.

When we got back to school, she ignored me, slept with one of the drama teachers and started getting cast. Yes, it happens all the time. I am not making it up or being bitter. She did what she had to do to get cast. But our senior year she seemed to remember what I had done for her and asked me to assistant direct her Senior Play, which just happened to be another Tennessee Williams show. She didn't have the depth to understand it and once again asked me to help her out. Which I did. I needed the experience to put on my resume. Finally, I was noticed by the faculty but it was too late and I was bitter.

But I got the last laugh. ME...little old me who never got cast, who never got any attention, who was told I didn't have the fire to succeed went to the theater alliance auditions one more time. All of the graduating seniors did. We all wanted acting jobs straight out of school and this was the best way to get it. I auditioned with the supposedly talented "other" group and no one expected much from me. But I got 29 callbacks and 5 or 6 job offers. More than any other student from my college EVER...Ah, it was a sweet moment. I went on to join an acting company and lasted longer than most of my fellow alumni, but I never forgot how badly I was treated. It's a lot of what causes me to be so hard on myself now.

So anywho, the whole reason I wrote this post today was not because I wanted to gloat (okay, maybe a little) but because I am about to send another round of my children's stories out today in search of a publisher. I am trying really hard to remind myself that everything is not always what it seems and sometimes I am my own worst enemy. I want to send them out with positive energy attached. My old creative writing teacher was interviewed in my alumni magazine last month. He was always so supportive of me and tried to get me to change my major several times, but I was stubborn. So I am going to cling to my memories of his class and my experience with kids and storytelling and I am going for it. Please send your good thoughts my way. Since I won't have the income from the good job coming in, I really need to make money another way.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

4 comments:

Jenn said...

If your children's stories are even 1/100th as captivating as your writing in this blog you'll do great!

L. said...

I'm sending out good thoughts "Hey Editors, read her stories and be so knocked out and astounded that you shake your collective heads in amazement and smile over the charm and depth of the paragraphs ... let her know how you feel and sign this author up with a big fat contract."

OK ... hope that does some good!

Paige said...

I am sending all the good thoughts I have--you can do this!

Bubblewench said...

THINK you can? I KNOW you can! Best of luck.