I am a theatre rat, have been most of my life. No surprise to those who know me and have shared a show, or who have heard me talk about working on shows. Since I was 14, almost all my effort has been backstage because of a nasty case of stage fright I developed at that age. I have overcome it for giving presentations and arguments in court and so forth, but not for performing. This works out well enough, because performers need backstage people, and the way my mind works I'm good at it.
A couple years ago I decided I need to work on the stage fright a bit more. When I moved to Connecticut, where people don't know me, I thought that it would be easier to do. But I still ended up backstage, until I heard about Charter Oak Cultural Center doing "The Vagina Monologues." I decided to go, since raising money for shelters aligns with some of the social justice work I have done in my lifetime.
The director pretty much cast anybody who didn't fall over when we were required to speak words about women's body parts. I liked it. The energy, the challenge, and after one show I was complimented by an actor who'd read for a show I stage managed (and was deemed wrong age for the parts) because I was "off-book" for a small piece. I was actually less nervous memorizing it than I was when I tried reading it from the page. But that boosted my confidence.
This year, different director, but I was cast again. And I went off-book again for one piece (I couldn't get the other completely memorized), when I portrayed a six-year-old girl answering questions:
For that one I channeled nieces who were or had recently been six. People told me that my height helped the illusion. sigh! The second night I remembered to get my scrunchie in so I had a ponytail. I had another bit in "My Angry Vagina" which I mostly memorized:
And then we had two long pieces where people read a word or two here and there. For "The Lists" we had different words each night, which created some confusion when people missed rehearsals due to the storms and then tried to figure out which words they were supposed to read out which night. The other was "Say It - for the comfort women" and it was very powerful. I was honored in that one to say the final words.
Someone from work was also in the shows, and a friend of hers videotaped the pieces she was in with an iPhone. So they are not terrific, but you get to see (or hear, when I was on the opposite side of the stage) me in some of them. Just click on the links in the paragraph above.
The good news is that we sold out both nights, and raised quite a lot of money for local shelters and programs. I look forward to doing it again next year!
And a cool thing happened about a week later. I was going to Cinestudio to see "Made in Dagenham" (which I highly recommend), and when I bought my ticket the girl in the ticket booth asked wasn't I someone who'd been in the cast the previous weekend. Yes, I had been, I said. She complimented the performance and said she and her friends had gone and liked it very much. I floated! I've had friends who are actors, and directors, and they get recognized all the time, but nobody every compliments the stage managers. (Having friends do it isn't the same thing.) I'd never been recognized before! And I didn't think it was just me, it was the whole show, which made it matter more.