Monthly Archives: May 2012

Why breakfast and physics don’t mix.

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Friday, 7 a.m., a conversation between me, my son Deck (15) and my son Cal (17)

Someone drops a spoon.

Cal: It’s weird to think that, when two objects collide, they come off each other with equal momentum.

Me: What?

Deck: When that spoon just hit the table–they came away from the impact with equal momentum.

Me: But the table didn’t move. It has four legs. It was still.

Boys laugh.

Cal: Not equal speed, Mom. Momentum. Momentum is conserved.

Deck: Mom, you have to think about everything happening in a vaccuum.

Cal: Yeah, a vaccuum.

Me: Well, I don’t spend a lot of time with vaccuums . . . we have mostly hardwood.

Dead silence.

Me: That’s a little housekeeping humor for you right there.

Dead silence.

Me: FML.

Why so excited?

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My show opens tonight.  This is such a big deal, I wish I had gotten more sleep.

My friend Maggie got married yesterday in a beautiful wedding 90 minutes away.  My husband and oldest son are out of town at a basketball tournament, so I decided to drive home after the wedding  and mind the other two kids. I deliberately drank two cups of coffee with my dinner, to stave off the dark-driving sleepies, and inadvertently, staved off sleepies of every kind.

But my show opens tonight.

So, four hours of sleep or whatever, tonight I get to see my very own work, in a very dark theatre, with a very(?) attentive (?) audience. While I have had productions, workshops and readings before, nothing I have written has ever been graced with the kind of talent and attention this piece has gotten.  Chicago has an amazingly deep pool of gifted theatre artists, and this suburban mom is reaping the benefits of that.  I’m having a little bit of an “embarrassment of riches” crisis.  Do I deserve the time and attention this play has gotten?  Tonight will tell, as will the following two weekends.

The artistic director of the festival told me my show is selling better than the others. I think it’s because there are 6 people in it, one of whom is 13, and because of my massive family, all of whom have been given a specific directive not to speak during the talkback.  Have you ever sat on a lit stage during a post-show and heard your godmother exclaim, “THIS WAS THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!!” I have, and I’ve recovered from it, but I might not if it happened again.

Why is a deep breath in order?

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Yesterday, Mother’s Day, was the 5 hour dress rehearsal for my 2 hour show.  I’m such a theatre geek that when the lights went down and the incidental music started, I got a little teary-eyed.  This happens to me a lot, and not just at my own shows. Sitting in a dark house, right before a play starts, there’s just so much potential.  Anything might happen on that stage. You might laugh, you might cry, but you’re going to share something with a bunch of people who are sitting there with you, pretending with you that what’s happening in this great big room is some version of life.

My bunch of people consisted of me, my director, our assistant director, the artistic director of the company producing the festival, the sound girl and the light guy.  It still worked. I put down my pen and let myself be pulled in, which was a little tough, knowing the story the way I do.

I feel a heart-swelling amount of gratitude to the 8 people who have brought the show this far (6 actors, director and AD). I could wrap each of them in an overlong hug after every rehearsal, but I think it would lose its impact.

We ran the show, took a break, and ran the first act again.  It’s going to be good.

I thought I was going to have to say goodbye to this group and this script (for a while, at least) come closing on June 3rd, but now it looks like it has a chance for life after workshop. So I’m taking a deep breath, and pinning my hope to my will, and I’m gonna try to make that happen.

Why start now?

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Tomorrow I will attend the dress rehearsal of a play that I wrote called “Agreed Upon Fictions.” The play will go up, in workshop format, on May 20, 26 and June 3 as part of Stage Left’s Leapfest, here in Chicago.  I have been a part of the month long rehearsal process, and at our last non-dress, non-tech rehearsal, I had an internal meltdown that left me a little bit shaken. It was the first time I realized that this small group of intelligent, talented, dedicated people was going to stop thinking about my work pretty damn soon.

I’m not usually this selfish. I have three kids (17, 15 and 13) and am pretty good at the classic mom “Me Last” mentality. I volunteer a lot, and I don’t always go to the “Thank You Volunteers” parties. I’m pretty private. I do stuff I like to do because it brings me joy, and I turn down opportunities that won’t.

But this feels different.

It’s taken me away from a lot, to drive into the city to be at roughly 40 hours of evening and weekend rehearsals. I’ve missed stuff that I normally don’t miss–games, recitals, etc. It’s been a source of mental distress, both in the casting process, and in having to replace one of our actors, because the original guy cast got a HUGE movie gig–and good for him, sincerely!  But the stress never outweighed the joy.

Thursday, as I sat in the rehearsal room, it suddenly hit me that it was going away. And that was the worst feeling.  I’m not sure the play is done. I’m not sure there’s not more I can learn about it from this group. I’m not sure what people who watch it will think. It’s not what I usually do–which is broad, broad comedy. Oh, I can make them laugh–like I’ve got them on a string–but now I’m asking them to take me seriously, and what if they don’t?

I’m going to miss my director, who is a marvel. I am not used to being around people like her, who can maintain focus on something for hours, keep track of all of her thoughts, and coax the very best out of people. I’m going to miss my actors–I look forward to seeing them in other things, but I will always think of them first as Katie, Brian, Daniel, Harold, Dawn and Mal.

I wrote all this in an email to my director, not asking for reassurance, exactly, but putting it somewhere so it didn’t have to stay in my brain. I concluded the email with: If I had a blog, I’d blog about this–maybe it’s time.

So maybe it is, and that’s why I’m starting now.