Monday, June 28, 2010

Time to Breathe

[taken at approx. 2:47am, June 26, mid-rainstorm]

We hit the ground running during tech, and from there on out the weeks have been a blur of eat, sleep, build, repair, rehearse, and perform. There were other bits and pieces in between, but they've been mashed into a confusion of verbs.

What has happened: We opened Love's Labour's Lost successfully, which - after opening night - presented me with an opportunity to begin understudying one of the main characters in lieu of an actor leaving town at some point during our run. Tech week for Romeo and Juliet was filled with morning shop calls, afternoon rehearsals, and evening dress runs of the show - not to mention learning my newly assigned understudy role in Love's Labour's - until opening night when we were rained out and forced to begin our opening night party a few hours ahead of schedule. The thunder and rain may have waterlogged the stage, but proved unable to dampen our spirits as we set forth to drink and be merry into the late hours of the night.

It's hard to recall an accurate timeline of events between our opening night party and this very moment. Needless to say, things went by quickly. I survived understudy line-throughs of both shows, an understudy run-through of Romeo and Juliet, and a performance as Dumaine in Love's Labour's Lost this past Friday. My parents were able to attend, my host family came to cheer me on, and the cast/crew were unendingly supportive. I had a three day notice and rehearsal process before the performance (with only one afternoon to actually rehearse with the cast); it was quite the experience, to say the least.

I have spent more time getting to know members of the company, teared up at Toy Story 3 (according Entertainment Weekly, that's totally acceptable), received a great massage, continued my exploration of yoga, napped in the sun, played in the rain, seen an old friend, spent time with my family, watched some good movies, and purchased several new plays. All in all, the weeks have been full. Trying to recall everything now, though, makes me wish I could add "updated my blog" to the list of things I've done recently...

What I'm feeling: Short answer - happy. Longer answer? ah - it's strange to think that in two weeks I'll be packing up my belongings and heading back to Madison to finish out the summer before I begin my last year of undergraduate classes. Each day reveals new reasons to be thankful for the opportunity to spend my summer with this group of artists; there is so much comradeship and constant giving. Recently I've been reminded of the chapters in The Gift (Lewis Hyde) that discuss the differences between a community and society. I've written about these topics before, so I won't take time to discuss them now. What I will say, though, is that as of late I've become very aware of the importance of a community bond between collaborative artists. It's also nice to be able to say that there is certainly a strong community among our company here at Riverside. We find support in each other in all instances; whether someone is offering to share a meal, give someone a lift, lend a hand, or use their own talents to benefit others, there's a lot of gift exchange between us, and each day it leaves me with richer experiences and ideas to reflect upon. Two of the other acting interns here have recently finished reading The Gift after having it recommended by me, and their enthusiasm for its ideas have made me very eager to reread the book - I look forward to seeing how my perceptions of the book's application to my life may have deepened in the year since my first read.

I do not ever want to work a regular 9-5 job again.
Not for any long period of time.
Not as a way of "making a living."

This summer has definitely solidified my desire to work (and, consequently, live) in the theatre. Earlier in the summer, I wrote about searching for the ability to take chances and make mistakes without fear of failure. Performing in Love's Labour's was the biggest leap in the dark I've ever taken as an actor; I should have been terrified. Or, at least, I would have thought that I would be, given my track record with stage fright when given weeks of rehearsal time for a role. But something about this experience was so freeing and, dare I say it: a complete and total blast. Yes, I stressed about the lines and blocking, and I spent three sleepless nights tossing and turning over the impending performance; but when the costume was on and I waited backstage with the three guys who would be my partners in crime for the proceeding two and a half hours, I felt excited and completely ready for the plunge. For the first time, I understood what it means to "forget" everything you know before stepping on stage for the first performance. I felt present and in tune with the story, I matched the cast's energy and tempo, and I didn't hesitate. Was it perfect? I have no clue - for the first time, I just didn't care or even think about perfection. I thought about having fun and telling a story. It was exactly what I needed: to be pushed off the edge and grow wings on the way down, as Ted Swetz would say.

Today, three days after the big performance, I am caught up on sleep, re-energized for the coming week, and anticipating more relaxing afternoons and playful evenings on the stage. It's been a great day of "me time" with friends, food, and drink, and I hope I'm able to stretch these last two weeks and make the moments last as long as possible.


  1. It's so much fun to hear about how great this summer has been for you, Chaddy. It makes me unspeakably happy to know everything is going so well. Really it does.

  2. Wishing so much that you could make a trip to Boston