March 14, 2003
Okay finally a moment to address some of the questions sent to me.
I guess it makes sense for me to ruminate on what my theater experience left me with. I honestly for the first time yesterday, during yoga, sat my butt down and had a good short think about it.
The first thing that crossed my mind was "How did it even come to be?" and "What on earth made me think that I could do something so scary?" It seems like it was forever ago now and I barely remember how it began. Where the seed came from and how it all came together.
I think if I were asked right now to do it again in the particular headspace I am presently in, I would say "No! I could never imagine doing something like that." But then I would be faced with the reality that I have already done it and 'what am I so afraid of?' which brings one to the perception of fear. How something can be so frightening in one moment and the next seem reasonably doable.
Overall, I have to say that I had a tremendous amount of fun. I loved the rehearsal process even though, when we did our final dress rehearsal the night before opening, we had only done the final scene in entirety ONCE!
I loved working with Roger from the very beginning and working with John Caird was akin to working with a poet. I should go through my script and compile little pieces of paper with some of his insights and tape them to my fridge. Which reminds me of "Adaptation" which I took myself to yesterday FINALLY! It has some truly mind stopping gems about life and us crazy human beings and how we chose to see the world and ourselves.
I loved being in London. But what I loved the most, I think, and what I learned from the most was about the moment to moment focus that takes place in live theater.
First of all, I thought that I would have a daily struggle with remembering my lines. And the fear of what happens when you forget them and the slow death that can take a hold of you. But that was not the case at all and I found that, within moments, if you relax and not go chasing after it, and allow the heart to race without panicking that your heart is racing and "oh my God I am going to die!" ...to basically let go and let it come, it will come.
Then, negotiating the audience every night was so fascinating. Figuring out that you can do a couple of things to help the show stay afloat. One is feeling early on what the audience is needing in order to stay focused. Do they need high comedy today to keep them interested or are they able to take in the subtle layers? Do I need to let my co-star carry the show this afternoon cause I just can't seem to, no matter how hard I try, get it up? Or do I need to balance out his reading of certain lines in order to help the point or the moment come across with the flavor it needs to have this all make sense in the long run?
None of this really goes on in a truly conscious way. It's more of what one realizes has been ticking internally in retrospect. But of course one can't DO too much of anything because then one is pushing and PERFORMING and trying to orchestrate a response and then it all falls flat. So I guess what I am saying is that I was inspired and challenged and in awe of the intricate dance and had fun playing with its changing faces night after night.
You get to a point where you realize that you alone are responsible for making it interesting and worthwhile creatively every time you get up there and if that means that you sense yourself getting in a rut doing the same things over and over, you can throw some wrenches into the works in the form of - and I know this sounds ridiculous but in live theater in front of 800 people it works - moving to a different part of the stage or picking up a prop you have never touched before or responding in a completely different, albeit appropriate way. It's about pushing the boundaries constantly so that you don't feel stagnant or get bored. And you continue to press against the fear so that you not only feel full and alive in the moment but you will have, when you look back upon it, shown yourself that you have done some scary things and therefore, when the next opportunity for fear comes up, you can look back and say, "Well, if I did THAT then maybe I can do THIS and it won't swallow me whole." Good God. I had no idea I was going to write more than a couple of sentences and now I have to go and catch a ferry.
But I also wanted to say thank you so so so much to all the people who flew from all reaches of the world to see the play and to all those people who wanted to but couldn't and to all of you who believed in me enough to vote for me even though the critics didn't and I was just so moved and touched and grateful (on most nights - tee hee) to see all your shiny faces backstage. And thanks for raising money for NF and Buskaid and Samson and for taking the piss out of me as much as I hope to take it out on myself.
With great sincerity,