Wit

I was doing some research about playwrights, when I came across an interesting fact:

Pulitzer Prize winner Margaret Edson, for her play Wit, remains a public school teacher with no plans to write another show.

I love this. This woman had an incredible story to tell – worked hard to get it produced – saw accolades and acknowledgment for her effort – and continued to teach, because she loved it.

We’re not all one thing. Sometimes it’s not what we do for work that defines us. No employee is just an employee, and no one should forget what kind of dreams and drive that others may have.

Margaret Edson is a teacher. And a playwright.

What are you?

Hadestown for the win

Take a classic Greek tragic myth – the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Create a modern retelling, throw in some jazz swing style musicians on stage with the performers, and take it to the Great White Way. What’s the result? Tony Award for best musical, obviously.

I may get a chance to see it in September, but for now I’ve only listened. I like it okay, but it’s probably not the type of musical I generally go for.

The myth aspect is great, but the songs for me aren’t the most singable. And that’s often how I become attracted to musical cast recordings – songs I can sing along with.

All five musicals seemed to be worthy of the nomination, and I had it down to Hadestown or The Prom, though my money was on The Prom to win.

But I was wrong. Congrats Hadestown!

The Amy apologist

Last year I was in a production of Little Women, the musical with book by Allan Knee, lyrics by Mindi Dickstein, and music by Jason Howland, adapted from the novel by Louisa May Alcott. Admittedly, Alcott is an author I’ve never read (with Senior year English Lit possibly being an exception – I don’t recall), though her contemporaries and acquaintances I’m quite fond of – Emerson, Thoreau, and Longfellow. In the show I was Professor Bhaer.

There is a scene in the show where, after feeling left out by her sisters, Amy burns a story that Jo has been working on. Most people feel revulsion at the act, and Amy’s excuse that Jo has everything and she has nothing comes across as spoiled and bratty.

From my view, though, Amy is nearly a middle child, and shows very little talent of her own. The youngest (who later dies from illness) is loved by all and a budding pianist. Jo writes, and Meg is a proclaimed beauty. Amy therefor feels out-of-place in her own family and thus acts out. It isn’t right for her to do so, but it can be understood.

So, I was labelled an Amy apologist and have been trying to defend my stance for nearly a year. Then I saw a production of Little Women: The Musical just last month, and I thought Amy was a complete brat.

The first time I got paid for it…

There’s a fun book titled The First Time I Got Paid for It, which chronicles the stories of writers in Hollywood selling their first scripts. As I deposited my understudy check this week, amazed that someone actually gives me money for pretending to be someone else, I thought about the first time I got paid for this.

My first check tied to real theatrical work was a $100 split off from a check from the director of a show that I assistant-directed. I wasn’t experienced at all, and she walked me through the process pretty much all the way. It was the first time that I learned anger was a boring emotion for the stage.

Since then I’ve been a part of a number of professional productions, and even worked in film and television some – to varying degrees of success. Some of my footage will never be seen, and that’s probably a good thing.

But, to quote Jonathan Larson, “What a way to spend a day.”

Thespians

Down here helping in the Florida State Thespians Conference – an annual competition and collection of workshops for Florida High School students participating in the field of theatre, musical theatre, stage design, playwriting, directing, etc.

When I was a high school student, I attended the State Conference twice. It may have been one of the deciding factors in my career path heading towards Arts Administration. I’m always happy to be a contributor, and to hopefully provide some guidance to who may be the future leaders in the entertainment industry.

Another Op’nin’, Another Show

Here we are again, opening night. I missed you after the last production ended abruptly just weeks from performances. This one, though, is here and ready.

I’ve been wondering lately, are we ready? Am I ready? There’s this rush that comes from having an audience. It’s all happening so soon.

Only, not soon. This show has been in rehearsals for nearly four months. Too long. A fellow actor and I were discussing it, and believe that some of the cast may be suffering from burn-out. It’s hard to keep the needed energy for that long.

But, an audience tonight will let us know how we’ve done.

And then, it’ll be off to the next one.

Opening Night

Here it is, another opening night. I’ve been on stage in over fifty productions in the past twelve years. It’s probably over seventy-five now, but I can’t keep track. It had been one of the driving forces of my life.

This show has welcomed me back to theatre, and I appreciate it. Yet it still feels very different from before. Less joyful. Less exciting. That, sadly, has more to do with me than the show.

There are wonderful moments: the camaraderie between the fellow cast, being up on stage in front of people, singing and (pretending to be) dancing.

For a time, performing was a very social thing for me. As I got better at it, realized that I had talent and natural instincts as a performer, I started to take it more seriously. I worked professionally around Central Florida for some time. Things started going south, I guess, when I got sick.

The illness was eventually diagnosed as RA, and I continue to struggle with joint paint, fatigue, and stiffness.

I started this post to just mention that I was happy to be doing a show again. But what I’ve realized is that I have baggage tied up in performing. Baggage I’m going to have to sort it, if I plan to continue doing this.