Actions in Activities, Musings

Stage Addict

You know how sometimes people joke about various methods of getting high? Sometimes I’ll respond with a joke about my physical intolerance for drugs. I had my wisdom teeth out several years ago, and the doctor removed not only my extra molars, but any curiosity about drugs I ever had. Like after most surgeries, they prescribed hydrocodone for the pain. I took what they gave me at the office, of course, and then the prescribed amount for maybe a day, before the sedation fully wore off. But once I woke up, I was done. No-thank-you-sir. The pain of a bruised jawbone, four open wounds and precarious stitches was nothing compared to the mental impairment from the drugs. I have a high pain tolerance and a low drug tolerance. If ibuprofen couldn’t kick it, I’d just deal with the pain. I don’t want anything clouding my mind. And taking drugs when you aren’t in pain? My imagination is vivid enough, I don’t need any help getting distracted or compromised.4198e81a1d650f717a831dd4e53ee8ba

Sometimes you can’t avoid a high. A surge of endorphins. Adrenaline is my drug of choice. Roller coasters. Ice skating. Oh, ice skating. Not just your quaint little families-on-a-pond ice skating. I mean flying. I mean taking your life into your own hands– er, feet, because if you crash you could slice your leg open and die from arterial bleeding. Or at least, that’s the objective (though, not the dying part). I’m not actually that fast of a skater, and if I crash, the worst that would happen is that I’d blow my knee out (which I’ve done several times, and survived). But adrenaline isn’t only found in high octane, low drag activities.

Hi, my name is Annie. [an overly enthusiastic, but curbed “Hi Annie!”] It’s been one week since I set foot on a stage…

The morning after we closed I thought to myself,”I imagine this is what it feels like to be hungover.” My body hurt. My brain hurt. I was emotional. I just wanted to forget about last night. Forget that I wasn’t going back to the theater that day. That I was no longer Mrs. Elizabeth Martin. And yet, I didn’t want to forget a second of it. After the last show I had to go back on stage and collect a prop that was mine. Most of the furniture was gone. All that was left was a couple of tables, baskets, and our lovely yellow walls. I picked up my plates, looked around the empty room and ran out. Try as I might, smearing my makeup was unavoidable. Thank God for waterproof eyeliner, or it would have been worse. Someone jokingly asked the director why she was making her actors cry and we all laughed because Kittie is just about the sweetest person ever. But it bugged me. Why was I crying? It wasn’t because I was put on stage and made to feel special. It wasn’t because the show was so fantastic. It wasn’t because I was exhausted and relieved to be out of that itchy sweater. Those are all true, and valid reasons to assume, but they weren’t the real reason for my tears. Then on the way to the cast party I figured it out between sobs.

I have never felt that chosen and accepted before. I was cast, without knowing a solitary person in the theater department, without a single show on my resume, and having been in the same room as the director and stage manager only once. I wasn’t cast because someone put in a good word for me or because I had any kind of reputation. All they had was me. It didn’t take long for the other cast members to realize that I’m pretty naive about a lot of subjects. I was, in all honesty, a sheltered homeschooler. I would say things that, evidently, don’t mean what they did when the books I read were written. They would laugh because they knew I didn’t mean it that way and inform me of the current word usage. But they didn’t dismiss me as too weird. A subject would come up and they wouldn’t treat me as dumb for knowing nothing about it. It was mentioned that we should play “Never Have I Ever.” When I stated that I’d win in 5 turns, another game was chosen. I don’t have any scandalous stories (unless pulling your brother and sister from a frozen pond or riding in the back of a passenger van with a three week old calf is scandalous). Most of the time, I’d just sit there and listen. But for the first time, being myself, holding nothing back, not only wasn’t an automatic rejection slip, it was why I was there.

People are insane, ya know? Either we act; We develop multiple-personality-disorder and put ourselves out on a stage for the world to see, raw, exposed, intimate. Or we don’t act; We live our lives as only one person and keep our clothes and bandages on, never fully immersing ourselves in our imaginings. I don’t know which lunacy is worse, but I know that after tasting both, there is only one for me.

The Bald Soprano. It doesn’t make any sense. Think about it too hard and you’ll only give yourself an aneurysm. People asked me “Who played the Bald Soprano?” There is no Bald Soprano. The phrase is mentioned once in the entire show. Don’t try to understand the jokes. Just laugh and move on. It’s insanity on a stage. But it was mine, and it’s gone.

This has to be what it feels like to be in withdrawal. I find myself reading scripts for upcoming shows that have only just been announced. Looking for my next high, but knowing I won’t be able to find it for months.

Actions in Activities, Musings

How To Be a Girl

“If I were a boy, life would be so much better. No one would care what I wore or what I did.” She looked up at the enormity of the sky outside her window, laid her small head of matted, mouse brown hair on a pink Barbie pillow, and fell asleep.

“I have hips. When did that happen?” She sits on an examination table in a cold doctor’s office, looks down and notices her own, fully formed body for the first time.

I went directly from being a little girl to being a woman. At least, that’s how it feels. Those years that most girls get to grow accustomed to their bodies were stripped from me. No, I get it. Everyone is awkward during puberty. But I wasn’t just awkward, I was resentful. From the time I was 9 until this past year, I resented and hated the fact that I am female. During those years, the only emotions I truly felt at all were anger and hatred, so of course that was the only way I could view myself or my body. My parents never taught me to think this way, it was the 905dfa71e173a5a222272b7585f56c14pervasiveness of the ideologies of the purity movement in our church and homeschool community that hammered it into my brain, but the purity mindset was still encouraged. I am the one who took the encouragement a step further. The feminine form was something to be hidden, if not ashamed of. I still hated skirts, because all things that are feminine were weak and therefore must be eschewed. So, I wore boys jeans even though I was beginning to get tiny teen hips and they didn’t really fit right. I wore unisex t-shirts and sports bras almost exclusively. It wasn’t hard at all. It’s easier to find clothes when you just need to cover your shameful nakedness and hide your seductive form.

I recently got cast in a play at school, and it’s been so, so good for me. I realised that I still often carry myself like I’m ashamed to be alive, even though I’m happier now than I ever have been. I slouch. I mumble. I look at the ground when I walk. I avoid eye contact. As far as I’ve come, I’m still not used to being a girl. But I noticed something else. One day at rehearsal our director was talking about not being ourselves on stage, but being our characters. Mrs. Martin is a very posh, English gentlewoman. She crosses her ankles when she sits, with her shoulders back and head held high. Whereas I sit hunched over with elbows rested on the desk in front of me, my legs either out in front or tucked up under my seat. The first time I felt this dissonance between myself and a character I was portraying was at comic-con last spring. I was cosplaying for the first time, and I had chosen Snow White from Once Upon a Time in her huntress get-up. As I walked through the crowded hallways I noticed my attitude. I was standing straighter, but walking more urgently. Like the hunted princess. I was running from the Evil Queen (who, incidentally, is by far my favorite character), and it was all I could do to keep from breaking out into a sprint.

So, what now? Well, I have lines and blocking to memorize. Lines for Mrs. Elizabeth Martin, and blocking for Ms. Annie Hall. There is still so much character development in the works. Who is this girl with such a complicated past and such an ambitious future? How does she carry herself across this stage? She is a princess and a storykeeper. She carries herself with grace and love and confidence. What is her motivation? Life. Vivacious, glorious, abundant, splendid, Life.

Books and Movies, Musings

Own Your Art

When I was about 6 I was in a community production of Annie. I tried out for a lead part, but since I couldn’t read, I was cast as an orphan.

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You know how when you are an extra, you are kind of supposed to blend in? I’m guessing I didn’t do this very well, because they gave me this award.

 Later I was more literate and got a lead part in the Operation Christmas Child drama. I was a girl playing a part written for a boy. I guess I’ve never been very good at blending in.

For the past few months, I’ve been slightly preoccupied with the idea of getting back into theatre. I’ve been watching videos about acting and how to pick good audition material. I was practicing singing, until my allergies  made even my speaking voice pretty rough.

When I was trying to sing (trying, I’m not particularly great yet), I heard myself saying something: “No, don’t do that, you can’t sing ‘Stay Awake’ right. You really aren’t going to be able to hit that note like So-n-so, even with hours of practice.” This made me mad. Come on, Annie. For one thing, if you say you can’t, you won’t even try very hard. For another, you don’t need to sing it like someone else, you need to sing like Annie.

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As much as I stick out of a crowd, I still try to look like someone else. I love Madeleine L’Engle’s stories. I could never write like that. I love how a certain artist sketches dancers, but I’m rubbish with a pencil. When I crochet, I can’t follow a pattern to save my life. My cosplay of Snow White doesn’t really look exactly the Huntress.

But you know what? That’s ok. My stories are what they are, and I love my characters. I can’t really draw, but I can paint a word picture of anything I wish. I make my own crochet patterns. Yeah, my costume isn’t exactly Snow White, but it’s awesome, so I’m making my own character.

If people wanted the original, they would stick with the original. The world doesn’t need copies, it needs manuscripts. Be your own character.