Sittin On A Porch

Sittin On A Porch
Our little back porch

Friday, November 4, 2011

Insanity, Yoga and Opening Night

Oh I have had the weepy, moody, insanities again.  It is a hideous depression with a mean streak that can come out with no warning.  I have not had this for almost 2 months now and amazing how quick I can move bad times and bad things completely out of my brain.  Like wiping them from my memory will somehow make it go away and never come back.  Ha!  I say Ha!  And the worst part is that for the most part I don't see it, and if someone is less kind enough to actually point it out or call the kettle black, it does not help.  It does add to my grief and regret as I come out of this moodiness.  I don't like being mean to others.  I loath the anger that can build up in me.  I loath the depression that causes me to weep dramatically uncontrollably.  I fear what I might do to others.  I fear closing myself off in my yard so that I will not hurt anyone else, and I certainly don't mean physical harm, I mean verbal and mental cruelty.  In other words I loath what I become and that I seem to be powerless to even recognize it until I have done something stupid or said something hurtful.  I loath how needy I get.  I need so bad at these times for someone to reassure me that I am normally a nice person, a kind person, a good friend.  I need someone to lean into and just hold me until I can get control of myself.  And yet, with these episodes no one wants to be near me or put up with me.......not even myself.

And then in my most weepy sobbing times I start to see it and realize what I have done in this Jekyll and Hyde world I live.  I know it is the cancer and side effects of the meds.  It took a long time for me to understand why this was happening.  The guilt and regret and self loathing comes right in as the insanity starts to wane, but I am still so moody and weepy and that is the worst. 

I have a friend who actually has been the kindest and best to handle these episodes.  He just says, "you are acting silly again." and he lets it go at that.  He does not live near me so he does not have to deal with it like my friends here, but each time he has said that to me, as much as I hate hearing it, it is much kinder then how my other friends tend to deal with it, and by calling it silly, it seems to take some of the power out of it and helps me to struggle back to the surface of sanity.  It is not like a normal depression.  I don't think that I suffer nearly as much as those who deal with depression.  This being chemically induced from the outside rather then starting from the inside does not last as long, and is not quite as debilitating as those who really deal with depression.  Also I get a little break in that most people do recognize that this is somehow related to the cancer, or they are just kind enough to give me a pass because of my cancer. 

The last few days this thing was building strength and was so bad.  Maybe not any worse then past episodes, but since I had not had it for a while it may have seemed worse.  But I hurt people none the less, and I am always so sorry for that.  I also have the hardest time getting over the hurt incurred when my friends refer to this in negative terms like telling me I am in a bad mood will somehow make it better.  I really don't blame them for their frustration with me.  They never know who or what I will be, anymore then I myself can see or predict.  But I have friends who live with depression and other mood altering conditions, and I may not do as good of a job as I think I am doing, but I try never to call them names or refer to their "madness" in the ways that many do to me, because I know how much it hurts. 

And some how, as much as I suffer from hurting my friends and those stuck around me at these times, I keep thinking they are the ones who see me when I am sane, and know that my heart is kind.  Why do they judge me so harshly when I am not?  Can't they see that if I could not be this way, I would do anything to make that happen? 

And that is where the yoga comes into this post.  We were 20 minutes from curtain last night and I was not sure I would be able to read Sir Percival's part, let alone walk out on that stage for my other parts without literally breaking down in dramatic and pitiful sobs.  I had to do something.  I had taken my meds that are supposed to help at these times, but honestly they are not enough.  So why had I not had it for the past few months?  Exercise!  I have been working out at the Y until I fell and broke my tooth.  Hmmmmm, it could not hurt to try.  So I literally threw myself to the floor and starting doing salutations.  I started with what one instructor has called an earth salutation, and then I moved to the sun salutation.  I only took 10 minutes because I had to get back into place and be ready to do whatever I had to not let the rest of the cast and crew down.  Within 20 minutes I realized I was happy.  I was laughing and being my normal self.  Big ephany, really big.  So today, I have stretched and when I finish with this post I will lay down and then make sure I get up for my rest in time to do more yoga.  Maybe just believing it will help will be enough of a placebo to get me through this evening.   Yoga, the good mood friend.

So last night we had our preshow opening.  It is a fund raiser for Altursia and they are generally a wonderful dress rehearsal-preshow opener.  It gives us a chance to time for laughs and to do our last full run before "opening night" to work out any bugs.  I stopped at the store and bought food, I made almost zen cookies.  They had everything but chocolate in them, hence almost zen, almost everything, not quite.  I checked and double checked that I had everything.  I bind my small breasts for one part and then the other part I have to accentuate them, so that is 2 separate garments.  I wear facial hair and a wig, at different times from each other, one is manly the other womanly.  I rechecked, I wept, I gave myself pep talks.  I tried so hard.  And I got to call a few minutes late, but not so bad and I set up the food and checked and rechecked all of my things and the show started and we ran through it and everything went just great.  We did have a few minutes in the first act where insanity swept the stage and the actors could not remember their lines or what came next or where they were.  It happens sometimes.  In fact, one of the actors walked over to bedroom three and said, "What is my line?"  She knew it.  She told him.  Meanwhile the other actor and Jack, our Narrator were filling space and trying to get us out of the mess.  The audience couldn't help but notice something was amiss and they responded wonderfully.  They laughed at the spontaneity.  They laughed at the humanness of live theater.  They laughed in support of the actors on the stage.  They applauded when the play got back on line in just a matter of a minute or two.  But that minute or so seemed to last a life time. 

You actually appreciate these moments when you are a part of something like this.  Because you must rely on each other to figure out how to get things pulled back together  Some times one person pulls you out, sometimes it takes the entire village, but that is live theater.  And that is why people come to see a live show.  Not just to see a well run show, but to see something different the night they came that no one else on another night got to experience.  And everything worked out and in fact that was the highlight of the show for everyone there.  Something magical and unexpected happened.  People solved problems and worked together to fix a small situation  And everything worked out fine.  Humans love to see a challenge and then everything work out fine.  Maybe that is why Americans love the underdog.  Because if the underdog can pull it off, maybe all of us can.  Maybe everything is going to just work out fine.  

The show flowed along, I think most of the actors come alive on stage when they have an audience.  Some are wonderful all time, others are good, but with a receptive audience they are able to pull something from somewhere that is just huge when they are rewarded with a laugh or a gasp or some reaction to their work.  I love working with these people.  They make a Director nervous, but there are just people like that.  They give you their best during rehearsal, but they unknowingly crank it up 10 fold or 100 fold or 10000 fold when they have an audience.  

I think Amanda, who plays Millicent the Innocent steals the show.  Don't get me wrong, there are some incredibly talented people on that stage and behind the curtain both.  Amazingly talented people.  And Tim Nettles who plays Luke is nothing short of phenomenal in his prat falls and acting and he is just over the top wonderful.  But Amanda simply steals it all.  She is so sweet and talented and would never even notice how great she is at this acting thing, and there is no vanity or ego in trying to steal the show.  She simply just does.  And our audience laughed and seemed to really enjoy themselves.  

The only comments I heard for my parts was that everyone loved the dear.  I play the voice and through my speaking control the movements of the deer.  Something I have never seen because I am standing behind the deer backstage in my little corner.  But he was just such a surprise and Barbie wrote some cute stuff and of course I have added my own personality and it is a fun part of the show.

Tonight we will do it all over again.  It will be different, the audience will be different each of the actors will bring something else they did not have on any other night and we will have our official opening night and the show will start its run.  We will count down each show as the time progresses.  Sometimes we count down out of relief that we are almost done.  Other times the count down is of regret that soon this wonderful experience will be gone.  When we did Sex Please....  each night was a curse that we were moving closer to the end.  But I have been in other productions where by the time we open we are all so exhausted and spent that each night was a celebration of completion and proof that we could endure.   This show is sort of mixed.  I do not morn the loss of another show, and yet, I am not looking forward to the conclusion, yet.  Maybe by the end of the weekend I will feel stronger one way or the other.

But of course right now I am dealing with a lot of emotions, and it did not make things better that I had to talk to my father for over an hour and a half tyring to help him figure out what we had done with the Christmas lists.  We got so turned around and he and I do not know how to make his camera work, although Rob has set it up.  So he had to read me the pages so I could try and put them in order, throw out what he didn't need and clarify the system we had figured out together when he was here over a month ago.  It was very stressful on both of us, and I was really not emotionally strong enough to deal with this, but I did my best, and we were both honest with each other as we would become frustrated.  In the end it all worked out just fine, but it took a toll on me, as I am sure on him.

So maybe I have learned something last night about exercise, yoga specifically, and emotional disabilities.  My respect and ah of my fellow actors and crew definitely grew from last nights performance.  I also got to see the wonderful Pat and Ron just fresh back in town. 

Today, I met Jan up at the Opera House and we set tables and then went across the street to Tupelo's for a cup of tea and an apple crystallized ginger scone while we waited on the day lily lady.  She was giving away bags of day lilies she no longer needed or desired yet.  Like a true gardener, she could not bring herself to harm them, but they had to go, so she generously gave them away, five to the bag.  Jan and I each picked up a bag and then managed to get the nerve to ask for a third bag for Pat.  I would have loved to have gotten bags for all of my friends, but it didn't work that way, and Jan had told Pat first, so she was the lucky recipient. 

Jan and I got the 47 places set, which is not a bad opening night, but is small.  Tomorrow night is worse, and usually are Saturday nights are the big ones for the weekend.  But tomorrow is an important SEC Football game and the next 2 weekends are home games for FSU and that definitely cuts into our audiences.  But we will go out and do our best, and we all just hope that we have enough people to break even.  This is a wonderful show, and at another time when not competing wtih football would probably have been made us a nice profit for the Opera House, but August - January is a tough season and it takes a show, like Sound of Music, a well loved classic, well done to bring a profit at this time of year.  But the show must go one, and so we will.  For the love of the dance across the boards.  To the creativity, the coming together of friends and strangers both on the stage, behind the curtains and in the audience we will do this dance eight times in front of others.  And years from now, we will still laugh at the catch phrases that have wormed their way into our speech.  "I can do that"  is the big one from here.  And it is almost a secret code the way we secretly smile and look at each other when we say or hear those words.  Words that belong to us as a group.  Words that belong to each and every company who puts on this play.  Each little secret society of people, that is made up of the cast and crew from each production.  A bond shared between people in the purest and simplest gift.  The gift of passion for what we do, for love of those who do it with us and for the audience who comes child like in their expectations of sitting back after a delicious meal and waiting to see what magic happens before their very eyes.

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