Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ignorance is Bliss(fully Like Drugs)

Recently, I had performed in one of Kevin Broccoli’s monologue shows at the 2nd Story Theatre in Warren, RI. This is the second time that I got to perform in one of Kevin’s shows, and the first time proved to be a great theatrical experience for me. What I mean by this is that it isn’t like the run-of-the-mill theatre people expect. The kind of theatre that sort of stereotypes the whole form, and it is fueled by the likes of what Peter Brook would call “Deadly Theatre”. This was the kind of theatre that I could really get behind; it was the kind of theatre that understood what it was and it was true to its “self".

I was excited about the monologue that I had. It was much more substantial than the first one I had performed. It was interesting. It was funny, as well as something I could have fun with. I had a fair amount of time to go over it, and I was feeling good about it. When I got to 2nd Story that evening, I had gotten to see a fair amount of people who I haven’t worked with in a while. One thing that seemed constant about these people was that they were working regularly, and I mean this in a performance sense. They were working regularly in work that seemed interesting and provoking. At the time of this show, I too was part of a production currently in rehearsal. And while I felt good about this production, I felt a bit stifled with all of the other work I have been doing. I don’t know if it had to do with the monotony of the work, or if it was because the work in itself was not pulling in a crowd, but I was in need of a new creative outlet. I needed something creative that would give me a solid kick in the pants. I tried turning towards writing, primarily through a comedy writing course through Second City in Chicago. Unfortunately, that class was now over. And while the class provided a great deal of information and practice, I am not so sure it provided me with the thing I wanted most: the “want” to write. This is probably something that can’t be manufactured, but nevertheless it is still something that I am eager to grasp hold of. It is something I want to not bury in excuses. “It’s been a long day.” “I’m tired.” “I’ll watch a movie instead.”

We have a little less than an hour until the doors open, and I’m seeing the space for the first time. I hadn’t the pleasure of being at 2nd Story before, but it’s one of those theaters in RI that people want to be involved with. It’s generated this certain amount of clout that those in the artistic community want a piece of that pie. I was unaware that the place was in the round, which was certainly interesting. I was also unaware that my particular monologue was part of a dual monologue. I would be performing this alongside another actress named Katie. It’s our turn to get up. Katie and I are on opposite ends of the stage. We are performing monologues about a one night stand we had with each other, each with very different perspectives. Katie goes first. Her monologue is good. It’s solid. The delivery is where it needs to be. I’m feeling the lights trying to melt me from the head down.

I start my monologue, and right away I begin to blank. Why am I blanking? I know this monologue. I know I know this monologue. I take a look at it from off my phone, continue, and I blank again. I take another look, and I continue. More blanks. This is getting absurd. I tell Kevin “I need to sit down and look at this”.
One thing I will give Kevin was that he was as calm as could be. I’ve worked with enough where he thankfully had something he considered faith in me. Meanwhile, I was sweating bullets. Here I was, at a monologue show, and I don’t know my monologue. These shows that Kevin had been doing for a while gained a good rep. I didn’t want to be the guy that tarnished this rep. I didn’t want to be the guy that let the rest of the cast down. I could almost picture myself completely blanking in front of a full house, watching Katie stand uncomfortably as I tried to remember my next line. I didn’t want to be “that guy”.

One thing that I can assure you all of is that one of the biggest rushes one can have is not knowing what you are doing before you have to do it. Not to be confused with being inexperienced. I felt confident in the skills I’ve gained for the stage. I knew this was something I could potentially do. Think of it like a NFL quarterback, at the Super Bowl, and he forgot all of the plays. As I watched the beginning of the show, going over my monologue over and over in my head, I could feel my heart beating in my throat. The anxiety was like nothing else. If it was a drug, I was not only hooked on it, I was hooked, kicking it, going through withdrawal, rehab, and then hooked again. Like one of Lindsay Lohan’s months.

This anxiety kept building and building, all the way through Katie’s monologue. Finally, it was my turn. I took one moment, one moment to make a choice. Somehow, that choice got a laugh, which was good in this case. I started talking, and thankfully, I talked the whole way through. I had one rough patch, where I had switched some stuff around, but everything that had to be there was there. The audience seemed to have enjoyed the piece. My adrenaline slowly went down all the way to intermission. After that, I went over to Katie to congratulate her on a job well done. Then, I went downstairs, got myself a beer, came back up, and had the best “cool-down” I’ve ever experienced.

In one fell swoop, I felt what I needed to feel, both creatively and mentally. Pants thoroughly kicked.

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