Curtain Call: Expiring Minds Want to Know

“You don’t understand it, but that’s understood.”

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What exactly is a curtain call? Merriam-Webster defines it as, “an appearance by a performer in response to the applause of the audience.”

In the past, I had written blog posts in response to the closing of a show. And typically, I had been cast as characters who taught me valuable lessons, or I had been cast in a show with a greater spiritual or emotional tangibility. Collectively I have learned a lot in Theatre. But with the closing of my first show at Louisiana Tech, Six Women with Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know, I can hardly reflect upon anything that I learned spiritually or emotionally.

Instead, I learned practically: every night is opening night for someone.

Perhaps I simply needed to remember what it’s like to be submerged in a world in which you can laugh at yourself – a world where you can dream and be anything you want to be. Maybe not all Theatre is supposed to teach you meaningful, wise lessons. Maybe the point of some Theatre is “to entertain.”

Personally, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around something so surface-level as sheer entertainment, because I yearn for what Peter Brook calls Holy Theatre – a Theatre in which we call to the Heavens, a Theatre in which we latch onto the spiritual realm, where wisdom comes down from the clouds and helps us notice our fragility and brokenness.

But Rough Theatre must have its place as well, mustn’t it? Even though I long for the intellectual, the discussion. . . So be it.

Immediate as Six Women with Brain Death was, I still longed for something deeper. But maybe this was the perfect show for me to come back into the Theatre. I got to do a few different voices as a voice over actor. I got to know the other students in my program. I got to learn marketing from some really cool people. I got to learn a little bit more about sound operations. And I spent many nights laughing at the six talented women who brought each and every character of theirs to life, over and over again.

It’s a slow start, but it’s a start.

And I’m back in a world that I somewhat understand.

Overall, I don’t regret my choice to come back to school for Theatre. I look forward to the next five quarters – and whatever they may bring. Most importantly, I’m thankful that I got to have two months with these two very best friends of mine, all three of us – quite different from the past – working backstage instead of onstage:

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Howard Stage, 5 November 2017

IT’S A HAPPY PLACE, A HAPPY TIME, WHERE MOUNTAINS ARE MIRACLES MEANT TO CLIMB. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS DREAM FROM THE HEART, AND YOUR DREAMS WILL COME TRUE.”

Time Capsule: “Hawaii Trip – Part One”

“Emotions are so fickle. Moods are so situational.”

Do you ever find that you really want to take out your frustration on everyone around you? That, even if someone were to ask you why you were frustrated, you could not actually put it into words? You simply feel like you’re drowning or on fire, and you want to take someone down with you?

Fortunately, I’m not at that point. Haha!

STORY TIME:

Tonight I sit alone at the sound board in Stone Theatre, listening to the wonderful cast of Six Women with Brain Death or Expiring Minds Want to Know as they rehearse their music. I’m running the sound board before Tech Week. (I say, “running.” What I mean is, “watching over” before the actual Sound Board Operator arrives.)

The cast is doing wonderful, and we have about thirteen days ’til open. So, I can only imagine how great the show will be by then.

All that to say, I forgot about the time commitment to Theatre, after having been gone for over two years. While away, I missed it. I missed the magic and adventure of it. I forgot the duty, responsibility, and work of it.

Mix that together with classwork – I’m in Stone Theatre all my waking hours, it seems.

Now, there are two responses to this. Either I could decide to be grateful, or I could decide to be bitter.

That’s it. Those are the two options.

I’m currently in a retrospective tango with both bitterness and gratitude.

It reminds me of the first night I spent in Hawaii.

TIME CAPSULE:

It was 8:30 pm in Hawaii, but back in Tennessee it was 1:30 am. And we had finally arrived at the airport – Mama, Gene, Kayla, Shane, Travis, Isaac, and myself. We accrued our luggage – seven suitcases – from baggage claim. I was cranky after not sleeping for over 36 hours. In the totality of those 36 hours, I hadn’t peed because of my irrational fear of public restrooms. I was bloated, needless to say.

After gathering our luggage together, we went to get a rental car. And it was the rental-car-place’s busiest night, confirmed by one of the employees. My anger was rising while I tried not to pee on myself. After waiting a ridiculous amount of time, all of us climbed into a minivan. Travis, Kayla, and I piled into the backseat with our carry-on luggage, and then Isaac’s baby stroller was piled on top of us.

We drove around in search of our condo. My attitude became worse when I realized we could not find the condo. Gene had somehow confused the directions. We passed the condo three times that night. And once we finally arrived to the condo’s gate, we had no code to open it. We had no idea which condo was ours as we looked through the gate. As opposed to most places in the continental United States, lights on the island are scarce. We could see almost nothing without the assistance of stars.

We waited for another car to drive through the gate, and we followed hard behind them. Yes, we got into the gate illegally.

And then we found a security guard. The guard helped us find our condo, but once we got there, we had no code to get into the house.

Four teens, an eight-month-old, and two adults, who had to deal with their irritable kids, were sitting in a parking lot with no way into the comfort of a condo that they had payed for several in advance.

Gene, reaching his boiling point, said to the security guard, “I guess I’ll go over and pay a thousand dollars for a room tonight at the Hilton.” Gene never yelled; he only ever became highly stern – at least in my memory.

As we drove to the Hilton, pain was setting in. My bladder was about to spill out my body. I kept repeating, “I don’t care where we stay as long as I can pee!”

After Gene left a series of frustrated voicemails for our renters, they finally called us back with all the correct information on how to get into the gate and the condo. Gene was getting frustrated with the valet now; he almost lost his head. But the phone call came at the right moment.

When we got to the condo, before doing anything else, I ran to the bathroom and peed. I don’t remember much between going to the bathroom and laying down on the couch. I didn’t bother unpacking or pulling out the bed before I was out for the night.

FAST FORWARD:

All that to say, I look back on these events, and I’m able to laugh at myself. In the moment, though, everything was highly frustrating. I flew off the handle a few times. And the trip was meant to be a vacation. . .

What I glean from this story: Emotions are so fickle. Moods are so situational. Why not choose to be grateful despite the ridiculous stressors of life?


If you’d like to see my first full week as a graduate student, the video is here.