I was 25. I had been living on my own for about a year. And my social life was anything but bustling. “Going out” typically meant drinking beers and eating fancy pizza with my friend Andrea whom I had done theater with in high school.
Andrea mentioned to me that our high school theater teacher who was a huge mentor for me, was putting on a play in Manhattan and she was going to get tickets. She asked if I wanted to go. I readily agreed.
As we took the elevator the 4th floor of a sliver of a building just off Broadway, and walked down a narrow hallway past a meeting of some very large, bearded, individuals meeting for a support group, I wondered if this was indeed the best use of our time.
The play went well and afterwards my mentor told me had a small part in a play for me.
Seeing as I was not an actor and hadn’t been in a play since I was 17 and was now an “adult” with a full time job and my own apartment, I was a bit surprised and not really sure I should be in a play. But on second thought I really had nothing else going on in my life, so why the hell not?
As it turns out there was a part for Andrea as well
It wasn’t really difficult acting that I was required to do. I had a handful of lines and basically my role was to run around the stage and portray the life of an 8 year old who was up to mischief in the woods.
A tony deserving performance it was not.
The show only went up for two nights and it was sparsely attended. And it made me realize a couple of things.
The first was that I find acting to be extremely boring! The performing part of it is fun and something I enjoy, but the sitting still in rehearsals, not talking, having to stay in one place while things get set up around you, oh man was that boring. It was about the worst thing in the world for my ADD.
But after the show was over I realized something else. I too could write a short play that not many people come to see!
So that’s what I did. While waiting for my turn to speak at a job function I was attending, I wrote 3 pages of dialogue in red pen on the back of my notes. Those pages became the foundation of dialogue of my first play; Disengaged.
I convinced Andrea this was something we should do and she agreed, or maybe I just hung up on her before she could disagree.
Either way she was in.
I wrote a companion piece, we booked a theater, and put on our first show. It was one of the most incredible experiences watching the words I wrote come out of other people’s mouths and see an audience react to them.
I was immediately hooked.
I took a couple of weeks off after the show but I started writing again, and nine months later we mounted our second show Safety and Desire.
It was different than anything I had ever done before in that it was more grounded in real life conversations and there was poetry in it, my own.
We actually oversold the show and by all accounts it was a great success. But afterwards I felt like something was missing.
And the more I thought about it, I realized it was because it went so quickly. I had spent months working on the script. And then more months planning, looking for theaters, casting, marketing and countless hours with Andrea discussing every minute aspect of the show.
And then for six weeks we rehearsed. Nearly every single day we spent several hours with the actors running lines, blocking scenes, and getting ready to put this thing on. I was still bartending at the time too.
So I would work from 9 to 5, then go to rehearsal from 6 to 10, and then rehearse all weekend and then bartend on Sundays from 4 to 10.
And for as crazy bone tired as that made me, I never didn’t want to do it. I was in love with it the whole time. Sure I had no time to do anything else and kept running out of clean underwear and cutlery, but it was worth it.
So when both performances of the show were over it felt kind of like… that’s it? I wanted more. I didn’t feel purged of the show. I felt like I wanted it to go on longer, to share it with more people, and prolong its life.
And I think a part of me was also hoping for the show to save me. I don’t know how that would have happened or what it would have meant. But I think I just was expecting some kind of reaction or response or something more significant.
So I made a promise to myself, the next time I did a show it would be for longer.
Well guess what… that time is here!
My next play is coming December 7th – 10th in Manhattan! So if you are going to be even close to the area I’d love to see you there. It’s called Ripped at the Seems and you can buy tickets at www.ripped.eventbrite.com.
It’s a show about a lot of things, but more than anything it’s about the things we think but never say. It’s about the conversations that Andrea and I have after rehearsals or when we’ve had too much wine (which isn’t an infrequent occurrence).
I am so excited to put this show on for twice as many nights as any show I’ve done but I’m also excited because I’ve made another promise to myself.
And that promise is that this show won’t save me. Whatever hopes and dreams I have for after the show, I’ve let go of.
Well, almost let go of. I’m close. Really close.
But the goal is just to enjoy the process, because it’s all process. We all spend too much time on this for it to be just about what happens during 4 days in December. I have made a commitment to just love every minute of this.
And hopefully it shows.
Until then, enjoy the trailer!