Monday, November 4

try everything--expect nothing

there is a large blue sticky note stashed somewhere with my old journals and calendar-books, with the words "try everything" written in scribbly capitals. (sticky notes seem to be the way I give advice to myself, I guess.) I don't remember exactly when I gave myself the advice to "try everything," but I think it was during a stretch of dull, empty job-searching. I wanted inspiration and courage. I wanted some confidence to push me out of that dull emptiness. it all seems a long time ago, and I don't know why I've kept that sticky note. my life is far from dull and far from empty at the moment, but a dose of capitalized confidence every so often and a nudge toward trying new things--those are still nice to have on hand.

one week ago, I hurried home from class, made pizza for dinner, and then walked through the lovely autumn dusk over to the local community theatre. it's not much more than a block away. I'd visited only once, the night before, to pick up the script I now carried under my arm. they were holding auditions for a Christmas performance of It's A Wonderful Life.

friend Shara and I had just been talking about that show and its level of sappiness. cheery, sweet holiday scenes and grand, fuzzy morals do not usually take up bunches of space in the films she and I are more likely to appreciate. in this case I didn't think it mattered. I wasn't planning or hoping or expecting to get a part. I only wanted to audition for fun, for the tiny pinch of adrenaline that reading a few lines on stage in front of scrutinizing director-people would give me. I'd seen audition times posted on the theatre's facebook page. I toyed with the idea and decided it wouldn't hurt. "try everything," I remembered. why not?

so I showed up. I read a few scenes, introduced myself and my next-to-nonexistent theatre experience, and went home again to a very normal phd-student evening of reading Toulmin and Latour. the director said he'd call everyone on Tuesday.

and he did. but instead of finding a short message saying "thanks for your audition, we don't need you this time, please volunteer as an usher or a stage hand in the future if you can," which is all I had written into my provisional mental script of the day--I was asked to call him back.

so I did.

and he must have appreciated my (so-called) NPR voice and list of poetry reading experience so much that he decided to give me a trio of very small parts, including some singing.

alright then.
{ image adapted using this archival photo }

rehearsals started the very next day. my name was announced with the official cast list. it'll be a radio play, nestled deep in the layered stages of our community theatre, which will be dressed up as a live 1940s radio studio, hosting voices and sound effects from Bedford Falls, New York. the whole golden-age-of-radio-vibe reminds me of my dad and all the old radio shows he always downloads from the internet archive. it'd be cool if he and the rest of the family could come see me perform, but he might have to settle for a recording, if I can get my hands on one at the end of the run.


Jackie Chesley said...

That's awesome! I auditioned for a play once in high school. It was so scary. Congrats! That's exciting!

amelia chesley said...

cheers. :) one of my officemates theorizes that teaching is a kind of performance too and it can help your acting skills, and vice versa. we'll see how it goes...

arlene said...

You are brave - and it paid off. I agree that teaching and drama can create synergy. I should add more drama in my classes.