Friday, October 18, 2013

Year 25: What I've learned so far.

The first few days of being 25 were kind of eventful! I made a new friend in the coffee shop that I go to every morning before work. She complimented me on my scarf, and then I saw she had been reading a Bible, so I stopped her and we chatted, introduced ourselves, and discovered we live on the same street! Her name is Sarah and she's a church planter. Unfortunately, I've been swamped with "Spamalot" (more on that later), so we haven't been able to hang out. Hopefully soon; I'm really encouraged that God put us on each others' pathways!

Some of you may think "25 is just a number, you're not old yet, Star!" But I assure you, I feel old already. I was very sick for a week before my birthday, and by some miracle I was fully recovered for the day itself. I hadn't been eating because I was having extreme abdominal pain and back spasms. I slept for about three days straight. MedExpress was unhelpful, and my parents and sister even came up to be with me. I also had a really bad cold while all of this was happening. There were some dark moments during that week; but I'm so glad that even though my parents were able to come to my aid, Lando was also there by my side. I guess having a tv in the room where I was sleeping was good...he watched football all day and I was able to rest knowing he was there in case I needed something. But that was when I was still 24. 

Everyone asked how 25 felt, and i joked about when my first Quarter-Life Crisis would hit, but I had no idea the impending storm that was headed my way. 

I returned to "Spamalot" rehearsals as the trusty Assistant Stage Manager. I was bummed to not actually be in the show, so assuming a role on the production staff was hard. It's amazing how slowly rehearsals go when you're sitting at a table just following along in a script. It's weird, actually. I would compulsively check my phone only to see that ten minutes had gone by. 

The thing about this show is that the cast is amazingly talented. I had goosebumps just watching them rehearse. And now that we've opened the show, my goosebumps haven't subsided. But what happened during tech week solidified my calling and choice to be onstage. 
I missed our first tech rehearsal. It was homecoming weekend at Penn Sate and I worked from 10-6 on Saturday. Someone was able to cover for me in tech, and take notes, but once I received them, I freaked out. The next day, I called the stage manager and we talked for an hour about the notes and the backstage choreography. She was a whole state away for a wedding, and then I was late for rehearsal. Cue downward spiral. 
Long story short, there was a lot of crying. Also a panic attack. Those are scary, by the way. Especially when you're in front of people who are mostly strangers who don't know a thing about you other than the fact that you've been at rehearsals for this show. I left the building. I caused a halt in rehearsal. Finally, I calmed down long enough to breathe but I still couldn't stop crying. I was shaking and trying to fix everything all at once. (That's my tragic flaw: I'm a fixer.) Kat, the choreographer, who is also a mom, came backstage and talked me down. She reminded me that I just had to do one thing at a time. I apologized profusely to everyone, and ended the day mostly embarrassed. 

I made huge mistakes along the way. Don't get the wrong idea when you read this, but I generally don't make huge mistakes in the theatre. I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but never in my entire performing arts career (since I was 4), have I ever caused a rehearsal to stop functioning. Not even when my best friend and I fought while she stage managed my senior show. We barely spoke during rehearsals, but we always plowed through. To not actually be in a show, and then hold up the actors is a big deal to me, and I've realized that it's because I'm an actor first, kind of a director second, and never, ever a crew member. I would have been mortified if I had been in their place and saw that the ASM was having a nervous breakdown. Like, "who is this chick, and why is she dying right now??" I purposely didn't make it a big deal that I had never been an ASM before until that day. It was apparent that I had no idea what was going on, so I just owned up to that fact. I'm not sure if that caused more sympathy for me, or more strange looks. Either way, it was the truth. And I told myself that I shouldn't be ashamed about it. But I quickly learned that I shouldn't expect to be perfect right out of the gate, and that it's ok to ask for help. Especially in the theatre. Especially when you want to make a career out of it. 

We opened last night, and I'm very happy to say that things went smoothly. There were a few moments where I was just praying that we would get some stuff in place on time. At one point I almost crossed myself (seriously, I do that in moments where I can't find the words to thank God out rightly), and I looked up and saw my crew guy Tony crossing himself abut the same situation. It's nice to have someone backstage who gets me when it comes to Jesus and matters of faith. Especially in theatre. Especially when you feel like you're drowning in the theatre.
The night before, Tony reminded me that God was in control and that was all I needed to hear. There was nothing I else I could do last night during the curtain speech except get on my knees on that dirty stage floor and pray the prayer I always say right before going on. (Or in this instance, cuing the curtain.) "It's out of my hands God. I hand the theatre, the audience and the actors over to you." And, as usual, He followed through. My few moments of panic were replaced with a calm of "do everything slowly." I'm not sure how I got through the show without physically hurting myself, but somehow, I escaped unscathed. (This is rare considering I've hurt myself on the props or set during every dress rehearsal we had for this show.) 

I also want to give a shout out to one of my best friends, Lauren, who is on crew for "Assassins" at Ephrata Performing Arts Center right now. She's also an actress doing crew for the first time, and we've been texting about our experiences. I'm glad for the opportunity to bond with her over this whole situation. Everyone go see "Assassins!" 

I know what you're all wondering: "So, Star, would you ever do it again?" 
Short answer: no. 
Long answer: I'm so grateful to Amber for having extreme and crazy faith in me that I could do this, and I'm so glad that Year 25 started so far out of my comfort zone that I couldn't even see it. But this is not what I'm called to do. There is a certain personality type that is perfect for the position of ASM, and I'm not that type. The biggest lesson I've learned through al of this is that everyone has their talents, and just because you're a "theatre person" doesn't mean you can assume that everything you do will be 100% right away when you're in that atmosphere.

I've never been the type of actress to snub crew people (most of my friends have a tech emphasis and an acting emphasis), but this experience has given me a new respect for the curtain pullers, and backstage staff. But I'm ready to change out of my all black clothes, and assume a more colorful role. It's been too long, and I have a feeling that after this, my life and positions in the theatre has no where to go but up!