Twenty-two years ago, I started acting. What started as something that I had to do because everyone in class had to be part of the annual operetta turned into something that was just a part of who I am. Two months ago, I got cast as the lead in a local area production of a show called "Fat Pig".
This was the first time I'd gotten a lead to this effect. When I say "lead" I mean that out of seven scenes in the play, I was in seven scenes. From beginning to end. When we started rehearsals at weeks ago, I never thought that I would be where I am now. Eight hours ago, we closed the show. Eight hours ago, I sat on the stage and let my character, Tom, cry for the last time. Except this afternoon, a little bit of Joshua cried with him. I've never become so involved in a show before, or gotten so close to the other cast members: how was I supposed to know that when you're in a show with just 4 cast members total, that we'd become a family?
This afternoon, as I gave my ritual pre-show hugs, it took all I had to keep from crying, just while hugging my cast and crew. These people...they're my people. The thing about the theatre is, the people are always the same, but you have to find the theatre that's your fit. Two of the people--our stage manager and one of our co-assistant directors--are like the inappropriate parts of me. They're my Bad News Bears (from Avenue Q). When I'm with them, I can say anything, and they'll laugh. We can do anything, and it's funny as hell. It's like someone reached into my head, took all the bad, wrong things I think, and made them into people. The other co-assistant director? Man, I don't even know. She's so out there, and I love it so much. She says and does things that no one else could ever think of. And at the same time, her introspection toward the show was amazing. She made me think things about my character of which I would never conceive. And somehow, I formed this bond with her that i just can't explain. If the stage manager and the other co-AD are manifestations of my inner wrongness, than this co-AD is the manifestation of my feelings. She reads me like no one else and knows how to approach me when I'm upset or angry or sad, in such a way that I actually share what's upsetting me. That's not something I do.
My castmates...oh man. The guy who played opposite me reminds me so much of who my best guy friend used to be (back when he and I were actually friends). I just feel so comfortable around him (castmate) that I can say something like "I don't know why, but I just want to jump on your back and ride you around like a pony" and he says "ok" and then we do it. Like, that actually happened. He gave me a galloping piggy-back ride around the theatre while he whinnied and I shouted "Yeehaw!" The girl who played my ex-girlfriend in the show...I dunno. We just bonded one night when I gave her a ride home after we'd spent all night at the bar, drinking. I've shared stories with her, stories that I don't usually share with people that I just met.
And the girl who played opposite me? Oh man. We grew up together on this show. Over the course of the past 8 weeks, we spent so much time together, pushed ourselves so hard...we both improved so much as actors. Every night, I had to break her heart onstage, and every night watching her heartbreak, my own heart broke in half. Every night, after our last scene, after the lights went out, we would grope blindly for each other's hands, and share a quick kiss before the lights came up for curtain call. You can't just let stuff like that go.
And the director. Everything I can say about her, I can say with this: because of this show, I want to make acting my life again. Because of this show, I want to get my MFA in theatre. Because she cast me in this show, my life got better.
My parents came to see the show. They drove six hours to see me act onstage for the first time in five years. One of my best friends drove from Chicago--without telling me--to surprise me. She drove 7 hours in a day to see me in the show, then left the next day, just to support me. My friends here in town came to support me. My co-workers finally got to see me do what I do best. For once it was "Let's go see Brood's show", and I'm pretty sure they loved it, and saw what I'm really passionate about.
One of my castmates just put it so eloquently: "Today, I realized that shows are like relationships." It's so true. There's a part of my heart that feels empty, sad. Like when a relationship is over, you wonder "What's next?" When you're so used to being in that relationship and your every day is planned out, you think "Well, now what am I going to do tomorrow night? And the night after that?" Like with a relationship, I'm pretty sure I'm going to wake up tomorrow morning and have it all come rushing back to me that it's over, that I don't have it anymore and I can't get it back. And I'm going to have to put on a brave face and solider on, and look for that next opportunity.
And when I get that opportunity, I'm going to fall just as blindly in love all over again.