My date with Shakespeare, or, pushing through the fear without getting blotchy

Reading Linchpin has got me thinking a lot about art, how and where I create art as well as opportunities that I may be missing.  I do believe that I create art through managing and marketing theatre, but the universe has deemed it appropriate to give me a break from that right now as a full-time occupation.  So, rather than jumping right into searching for a new job to keep me busy, I’ve decided to work on (as Seth Godin puts it) building my platform.  Part of that process, I’m finding, is deciding what mediums to work with for creating my art.

Over the weekend I decided to dip back into a medium I haven’t worked with in over seven years: acting.  I know that acting feeds my soul in a way that few other things can, and that is what I want right now.  I had seen on Facebook that Richmond Shakespeare was having auditions for Elizabeth Rex last night and decided to give it a shot.

There were various obstacles that could have stopped me: my acting resume is on a disk somewhere in my house in Atlanta from when the nice computer folks saved the files off my hard drive when my motherboard went kaput a few years back, the last headshot I had taken was 10 years ago (and my one remaining copy is also in Atlanta), and (the argument that would’ve won the battle for the resistance years ago) I haven’t worked on a monologue in over a decade.  I’ve never liked auditioning with monologues.  I would get so nervous when I had to do them that I would blush to the roots of my hair and my chest would get all red and blotchy.  I started wearing turtlenecks to auditions and toward the end of my first stint as a professional actress, I started only going to auditions where I could do cold readings.  So, it has been a LONG time.  But, I had Seth’s voice in my ear, “you don’t need a resume if you have a reputation” and “don’t let the resistance win.”

So, I spent most of yesterday in the head of Beatrice from Much Ado About Nothing.  This meant that I didn’t check my Synchronicity email (sorry, Rachel) and I only did half the laundry (sorry, Ashby).   It meant, instead, that I spent hours with some of the richest text I’ve ever read.  There were moments yesterday afternoon when every nerve ending in my body was vibrating from the power of the words and the emotion behind them.  There is nothing in the world like working on Shakespeare.

I went in feeling strong and worthy.  I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I felt that way going into an audition in my previous incarnation as an actress.  The director was visibly put out that I didn’t have a headshot and resume (can’t blame him, they are an actor’s most basic tools!) but I had the good fortune to be able to drop the name of my dear friend Kate Powers (fantastic director and Shakespeare scholar) and that eased the tension a bit.  Nope, I didn’t knock it out of the park.  In fact, I went up on my lines twice at the beginning and had to start over, but I pushed through and didn’t let it rattle me.  On my third attempt I got through it and it felt good.  I wasn’t vibrating as high as in the apartment, but it felt good.

I doubt that I will get a callback, but (again, for one of the first times) that actually doesn’t even come close to bothering me.  The purpose of taking this risk was not at all about the outcome of the audition, it was about pushing myself to do something I knew I was capable of but could have easily talked myself away from.  The most concrete symbol of my new found victory over the lizard brain was that I walked out of the room and there was not a single red blotch on me!

So, what new risks are ahead?  Don’t know, but I’m keeping my eyes open and my blinders off.  What risks are you taking today?

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