|Former student Billy Borst (our sound tech), playwright Trish Cole, former student Jamie Burroughs (SM - also a fantastic actress), me, and my co-star - beard shaved for the production. (At a hotel in the city)|
As a mediocre high school actress I always wondered what the heck I was doing auditioning for every show and coming out disappointed.
My high school didn't allow anyone to be "cut", so of course I made every cast - but I was never anything I thought was "important". I was always in the chorus or the kid who had a couple of lines or the no-name actor who appeared sometimes in cameo or the "alto who could hold her part well and so needed to be in this group number" but wasn't good enough to be a "principal". In spite of these casting choices, directors told me I was talented, it was politics. I wanted the proof in the pudding, and it simply wasn't there.
I loved acting in spite of this.
I loved everything about being on stage and being back stage and being with the people you meet in the theatre. When I went to college I felt it was time to prove to myself that I could really do this - that I could do something productive with my acting - that I was a good actor... And so I auditioned. I auditioned for every show my freshman year and was cut from all of them.
My sophomore year I saw audition notices for Richard III and I thought I shouldn't even bother. My balloon was deflated. I figured... those people who cast me in high school... or didn't cast me... they were right. The director who told me I was talented in spite of those casting choices? He was just being nice to me.
But something pushed me toward the theatre on audition day for Richard.... And as I walked I prayed: "God, if you want me to do something with theatre in my life, then I will get a part in this show. If you don't want me to, be sure my name isn't on the cast list, and I will never audition for anything again."
I made the show.
I was cast as Messenger 1/Murderer 1. And I was shocked and thrilled and elated.
And after that show - there were many parts to be had. All of them supporting, but they were parts. And I was happy to be a part of the theatre community.
My dad took me to lunch once on the way home from college and I told him I was discouraged and that I wanted to be an actor but I never got any leading roles and it was frustrating - and I was majoring in English Education and I wanted to be a teacher but I loved theatre more than I could possibly say.
He told me that he had once also had a love affair with the theatre. He described it (laughing) as an addiction (which it is). He wrote a play in high school that won a contest and he had done a little acting and a little stage management and I'm not sure why I was surprised since he plays Biblical characters once or twice a year at church... He also said that as a teacher I would have time to do theatre as well. That there were lots of theatres in communities around the country and that he was absolutely certain that someday - I would play a leading role.
I didn't really believe it then, but I hoped. And I thought...
And my senior year I was asked to act in a little playwright festival at the college. And I got paid.
I started my own little theatre company with some friends, and I played Lizzie Curry in The Rainmaker. I thought it didn't really count because we all sort of cast ourselves and there is one girl and I was the only girl in the company at the time... but I had a headshot and I was in the program and people came.
I was invited to participate in the Meisner Method Class even though I wasn't a theatre major.
And after graduation I started my career in community acting in Southern Maryland.
And I watched with closeted envy as students who graduated from college with me went off to act on and off Broadway, and I thought... someday I'd love to act in New York. I'd love to act off-Broadway in an intimate little house where I can feel the audience breathing and I'd love to make them laugh and cry and I'd just love to hold my own with the other professionals and finally feel like maybe I belong here.
It was a dream I never thought would come to fruition.
I taught high school theatre for a few years and I directed some slam-bang productions with some incredibly talented young people and I coached acting at a small private studio and I had all this knowledge and I ended up finally portraying leading women in many shows and I became a person who was desirable - a person who made others shudder when she showed up to auditions... I became a "real actor" and yet I hadn't acted in New York and it felt fake and I felt fake and then I portrayed David in Trish Cole's Butterfly and she submitted it to an Off-Broadway play festival and she wanted me to play the role there if it was accepted.
And it was.
And I did.
But that was nothing like the experience of today.
Trish wrote another play, Field Guide to the North America Osprey and I auditioned for the leading role and I got it and my husband landed the leading male role and she submitted it to another festival but this time it was the Samuel French Festival. And it doesn't get any more legit than that.
And as we parked the bus in Albany at a storage unit and we drove Sally down to The City it felt like flying and colliding with a future I never thought could be I felt young and old and amazed at the way the world works and the way God works and the way life is and why we have the passions we do and why things aren't realized until certain periods and when I got a message from my high school musical director telling me he was proud of me and my accomplishments I thought, "I'm not sure it can get any better than this."
New York City was brilliant in all of the usual ways. I was privileged to be there with one of the most talented playwrights alive. To be stage managed by my own former student. My children were babysat by two former students who are phenomenal artists in their own right. It was... awesome. It was our director's first visit to the city (one of the best actors I know), which boggled my mind - how could someone so talented not be in the city... the world is so crazy.
Trish was offered a relationship with Samuel French as a result of our performance. This is the best I could ask for. I acted on an off-Broadway stage with professional actors and I held my own with them. I acted alongside my husband. We held hands with our children as we walked down 42nd Street. I was blinded by memories of all the shows past and all the doubts and all of the wondering what all of this was about and I know one thing: this is only the beginning.