Happy Sunday, all! I am EXHAUSTED. I was totally supposed to sleep in today, but was unable to for no apparent reason. I really did try, but apparently my body was all NO NO NO and decided that 8am was the time we wanted to both rise AND shine. Dammit. This is not awesome because I went to bed at 2am. NO, I was not mourning Whitney Houston. I know it probably makes me a horrible person, but I didn’t even care about Whitney Houston when she was popular, back when I was the target demographic for her music. So hearing the news of her death was a very big “eh, whatever, people die all the time” for me. I KNOW. I totally have no SOUL. Whatever, deal with it, I’ll mourn someone else some other time, ok? Great.
(Speaking of Whitney Houston, I totally laughed to tears over her death last night. I know. I’m going to hell. This probably isn’t going to be funny to anyone but me and the people involved, but last night at intermission, my friend K. and her friends J. and C. and I were all talking about Whitney Houston. C. was not aware that Whitney Houston had died. C.’s husband is in the play I’m working on, and she said, “We HAVE to tell him about this. He’s OBSESSED with celebrity deaths. We have a BOOK of them at home.” I was aware that probably the book she was referring to was most likely an actual BOOK, like, published and purchased and such, but in my mind I saw this book as a scrapbook that he keeps, with newspaper clippings and journalling and glitter and photo-corners and stickers and such, and this set me off on such a giggle fit that I couldn’t even function. So K. called upstairs to the greenroom where the actors hang out during intermission and said, “J.? We have some very serious news. WHITNEY HOUSTON IS DEAD.” And he was all, “WHOA. THANK YOU” in a very reverent voice and that set me off even more, imagining this imaginary journal and all the scrapbooking this newest celebrity death would set about – and J. isn’t even the scrapbooking TYPE, he’s like this burly GUY, which is even FUNNIER – and then someone came into the box office where I was wiping my eyes and trying to pull it together and asked what was up and K. was all, “Oh, it’s ok, Whitney Houston died” which made me look like a total monster that laughed like a weeping moron over the deaths of celebrities. My sides ached, I laughed so hard over the imaginary death scrapbook. IT WAS THE BEST.)
ANYWAY. So today, I was GOING to talk about something, but then I realized I probably don’t have the time and energy to do it justice, so I’m going to do it TOMORROW. Big plans for blogging this week, though, everyone, seriously. Teasers: murder-songs and a multi-blog event about sneaky sex. But TODAY, I’m going to talk about how I got involved at my theater. WON’T THAT BE FUN. Fine, maybe just for me. I’m cool with that. Listen, don’t even judge, I have a matinee at 3 today and I haven’t even gotten DRESSED yet.
When I first moved to town, almost ten years ago, I settled in and then I started to get super-restless and thought, I need to get involved with a theater because I’m about to go stir-crazy and paint the apartment or something and we’re not even ALLOWED to paint this apartment and also my roommate is about to kill me if I don’t get out of the apartment once and a while.
We had been to one theater that was right around the corner from my apartment, and liked the show. So I called them, had a nice conversation with someone there, and they said they’d call me back. I was all, great! Then they did. But I didn’t have caller ID. Conversation:
Theater: Hello, is Jamie there, please?
Me: I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong number.
Theater: No, I don’t think I do.
Me: There’s no Jamie here.
Theater: There is. I talked to her just the other day.
Me: No, I’m sorry. There’s no Jamie here.
Theater: Please get Jamie to the phone.
Me: I’m sorry, you have the wrong NUMBER.
Theater: I don’t like when people waste my time. This is NOT the wrong number.
Me: There is no Jamie here.
Theater: Tell Jamie when she comes home that this is [Redacted] Theater and she should call us.
(At that point, I dumbassedly realized it was the theater group and they thought Jamie = Amy. But they were so effing RUDE! Who doesn’t accept it’s a wrong number when told so?)
Me: Wrong number bye.
Yeah, I hung up. I’ve had dealings with them again, but you know what? My original “what rude assholes” opinion? Totally right-on.
So! Back to square one.
I went to see a play at another theater group, about twenty minutes away. It was AMAZING. I’d seen the play before, but not for years, and this was a wonderful production of it. I laughed, I cried, and I was just utterly blown away by the performances. Totally star-struck. So much better than what you’d expect from community theater. I realized that yes, it was about twenty minutes away, but this was quality theater, and this was where I wanted to work. I have the self-esteem of an emo eyeliner teenager just dumped by her totally hot boyfriend, so I was all, “THEY ARE TOO COOL FOR ME THEY WILL NEVER WANT ME TO WORK FOR THEM.” BUT! On my way out of the theater, because I was cautiously optimistic, I signed up in the volunteer book, in case they needed volunteers to help with backstage stuff. Because even though I have bad self-esteem? I ROCK THE STAGE MANAGEMENT YO.
Not long after, I got a call from the theater. There might have been squeeing. I can neither confirm nor deny the squeeing. “It says here you have experience with light and sound boards,” the caller said. “I do,” I said. “I’ve stage managed and run the booths at a number of theaters for years.” The woman on the phone sounded like she was about to cry. “Would you be interested in running the lights and sound for a show that opens in about a month? We don’t have anyone else. NO ONE ever signs up that has experience with the booth. We can’t GET people with booth experience.” I said I would.
SUPER-COOL THEATER WANTED ME TO WORK WITH THEMMMMM
Now, I’m totally the most socially awkward, as discussed. So I showed up, and immediately, I realized, almost EVERYONE from the play I’d seen that had blown me away was in the play they called me to work on. And I was so star-struck by all of them that I didn’t talk to any of them. I was PETRIFIED. I hid in the booth and cowered. Pretty much for the entire show. Because they were FANCY. And TALENTED. Even though they were all SO NICE! And so happy I was there to run the booth for them! But I was totally in awe of all the talented people that I just sat quietly and did my job and read a book. I’m amazed they even invited me back, honestly. (And, PS, I still hide in the booth. But I don’t cower. I just like the booth. It’s quiet and I can read up there and also it’s nice to escape the drama once and a while in the quietness.)
It was totally about six months or more before I could even talk to a few of the most fancy people. I was the most star-struck. IT IS THE TRUTH. I know. I’m a weirdo reject. The best part is, they’re totally not even fancy. I mean, they’re FANCY, in that they are like some of the best actors in the area. But as humans, they’re just lovely and approachable and they hug you and talk to you and are the nicest. I’m fairly brave in most situations, but in the face of talent, I get petrified and tongue-tied. I am not 100% sure what that’s all about, either. It’s the reason I geek out when faced with the possibility of meeting some of my favorite authors or actors or directors or what-have-you. I GET SO DAUNTED.
Luckily, theater is full of weirdos and characters, so everyone accepts everyone else’s weirdness, unless it’s hurting someone else, I suppose. Like, everyone accepts that I’m socially inept and refuse to attend social functions outside of the theater with anyone. (When asked, my stock answer is, “Thanks, no. I hate people.” This usually makes people laugh. WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING IT’S TRUE.)
ANYWAY. So now, even though I am kind of still daunted by the talent, I pretend I am not daunted. I still don’t go to social functions, though. Including TGIFriday’s which is where everyone was going last night. Instead, I went grocery shopping at midnight. I KNOW. I am totally the MOST COOL. I don’t care for socially interacting with other humans, it makes me twitch.
So I ran the lights and sound for the first show, then my amazing friend K. moved to town and started volunteering at the theater, and she and I worked together on show after show after show, stage managing and set crew-ing and working the booth and whatever was needed (K. was on-stage, too, because she also acts – I’ve acted four times since I started there, but only once on purpose. The other three times it was totally a “Amy, there’s a tiny part and it would be stupid to get someone else in here for this, so be a cop, ok? Great” situation. NEWS FLASH. I am not a very good actress. I used to be; I haven’t flexed those muscles in a long time. Probably I could be again, but honestly, that seems like a lot of work and I have writing to do, dammit.)
Then they asked me to be on the BOARD OF DIRECTORS. I KNOW! I was totally going to be ONE OF THE FANCY PEOPLE. Once, I worked at a theater? And the board of directors would meet once a month and I would walk by the room all “SOMEDAY THAT WILL BE ME DAMN YOU” and now it WAS me.
Then I became a Vice President on the board. Then the WHOLE DAMN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR. I know. It’s kind of hard to take it all in.
See, here’s the thing. When I was a quiet little nerdy kid that everyone picked on and beat up and all those good things that have totally not warped me into the bitter, twisted human being you see before you today, I found theater. And it was seriously like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where everything turned to color, which is a total cliche but I’m sticking with it. So sometimes, I look at where I am now, with all the people swirling around me, and me running around to set the props and making sure the sound levels are all right and seating the patrons and checking on the actors and checking the stage blood and sitting through the board meetings and SO MANY THINGS and I just want a nap or to breathe in a paper bag for like five seconds, and I just think, quietly, about that little girl who one day saw an audition notice hanging on a board in the cafeteria and thought, “This might be fun.” And I like to think she’d be so proud of this. I like to think that I can reach back and show her what’s ahead, if she just sticks with it long enough. That it’s all going to be ok. That there’s a strong, capable woman ahead of her, who is the Artistic Director of one of the best community theater groups in the capital of the entire damn STATE. That someday, she will go to a play somewhere she’s never been before and one of the box office people will say her name in an awed tone and say “Wow, I can’t believe YOU came to OUR show! Thank you!” That people will come to her for advice on things, that people will take her advice seriously on things, that people will look up to her and she will part of something bigger than her. That she will find her people; that there is an entire community of people that feel the same way as she does about theater, that love it as much as she does, that get as excited about seeing it, discussing it, theorizing about it, as she does. An entire community of people who have been ostracized for their strangeness and differences and how loud they are and how eccentric; and these people will envelop her with so much love that she will explode with it upon leaving the building at the end of the day. That she will get to see all the plays she wants, whenever she wants to, because she will live in a town where there’s almost always a play happening. I want to take her hand and I want to sign her name with a flourish on that sign-up sheet, because it’s the road less traveled by, and it made all the difference.
Off to the theater – day five of my seven-day stretch. Happy Sunday to you all! Enjoy your day! I promise, death and sneakiness-blogging soon soon soon!