Now they know

…And now, they know.

Kept forgetting only two of the actors chosen for the production were at the original read through. Found that amusing – the questions about the plot, or how each of them died. Last night we had our full read-through.

Heard a couple of comments about how long the script is. Marked those people out in my head; they’re not people who’ve done this often. It’s a 90 page script, not ‘long’ at all – at least, not for a full length production. Had a laugh at myself; did not realize when I was writing how often I used my character, Elizabeth, to begin a scene. But, there it was: me talking the play into action scene after scene. That makes sense to me now. Elizabeth is the character that sets the entire play into motion. It’s her request to her therapist that begins the first act. She drives the doubt in the second act, refusing to believe her husband and brother-in-law are changed. And in the third act, even tho my character is dead, the audience hears statements relating back to Act 1 and the audio clips I’ll use will come from Act 1, so there should be a nice “echo” of Elizabeth in there.

The director’s girlfriend was a bit of a limp fish. Not thrilled by her lack of interest, her low level energy delivery, or her tinkering away on her phone while others read their parts. But I trust that she’ll bring it at the appropriate time. Even if she has a stick in her craw over doing my play, or how easy the exchange is between her boyfriend and me, her ego will push her to do well on stage. Especially after what I did last night.

Read throughs aren’t meant to be big acting situations. It’s a get thru it, so everyone knows the story. Read all your lines for the first time. But let’s face it: I’m the creator. I’m more than ready to bring any of these characters to life at a snap. So, honestly…I didn’t think about it. I just brought it out.

Even tho my eyes were down, looking at the script, I saw the group jump and react. She isn’t faking it; this is real! Almost, people, almost. I was at 85%. I’ll save 100% for intense rehearsal nights and performances. 🙂 And considering I start the action so often, the other actors will need to match my performance to make it work. So, no. I don’t worry about the director’s girlfriend, or the government agent who stumbled over a few words. Eighty-five percent is pretty easy to pull up (even on medication), so they’ll get that rehearsal after rehearsal. And they’ll find a way to match me.

Thrilled at how thrilled everyone was over the story. The glowing eyes, the gleeful smiles! I get smothered to death! I get shot multiple times! I get stabbed! It’s gratifying to me as the author.

Test of the meds: home after an activity that would normally send me tossing and turning for hours. I did stay up later than usual, and I did toss and turn a few times. Then I told myself to stop thinking about it, and slept. Pretty good. My reaction post performance is going to be even stronger, but this definitely helps. A lot. Wonder if Dr. T would allow me to take two pills post performance. Really knock me out. But not as a regular thing. Hm. Better ask him about it.

Happy news. My teachers said they’d be willing to continue our language lessons over summer. It’s not mandatory, and it’s not part of the usual class time. They’ll really do it on a totally volunteer basis – if enough of us will attend. I, of course, said yes. Continuing with the two of them over summer would be ideal. It would give me continued instruction and use, and I know I’ll just learn more if there’s fewer students because I’ll get extra attention. Three students said yes, so we’ll talk about an agenda next week.

And…I think the medication is helping me with Dutch. It’s improving. I’m slowing down and thinking about my sentences and grammar before I speak. I’m catching more and more. Still have to actively listen, which is difficult, but overall I’m pleased. Very pleased. Had to yet again reiterate that no, I am NOT moving on to a higher level. Not until I stop making so many rookie mistakes. My goal is to write in Dutch. And for that, I need a higher percentage of perfection. My teacher pointed out I might get bored because of the newer students coming in. She’s right there; we picked up a new student three weeks ago and she’s barely literate. She can converse it Dutch, but her reading is like nails on a chalkboard. However awful it is for me, I can only imagine what my teachers, native Dutch speakers, feel like. I understand, tho, that this new student has to be given the chance to drag her way thru simple sentences. It’s the only way she’ll learn.

But my status has definitely changed. From one of the crowd who might have been a bit behind everyone else when I began, I’ve become the swot. The student who gets everyone looking at her answers because they all know she’s right (most of the time). The student who sits back, allows everyone else a chance, then exchanges a secret look between herself and the teachers who give her the nod, and out she comes with the correct answer (again, most of the time). More than ever, I’m that go-between. Now that I feel a bit more confident in myself, I can handle that role.

So I’ve been ‘outed’. As creator, actor, and swot. No more hiding, no more denying.

Now they know.

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Pop the cork

Pop the cork, and watch it flow.

Not exactly sure what cork I popped yesterday, but it was defo a blockage. After signing out here I began writing in earnest. No outline, no format, no idea what it wants to become, just pure writing. I’ve had flashes of this…er, let’s call it a story for now, for years. But it sat there without substance in my brain. Great set up; now what happens? Still don’t know. But I’m allowing myself to get it out. The thought occurs that there is no story here – not really. No action to speak of, no thread of continuity other than my consciousness. It’s more like these blog posts than anything else.

Whatever. Let it go, see what happens.

Day one on the new med: very relaxed. The conundrum of to do or not do the housework or my exercising seemed small and petty. Enough work will get done around the house to prevent it from becoming a total pig sty, and same goes with my exercising – I won’t allow myself to get too lazy or out of shape. Did the big stuff: dishes, laundry, garbage and recycling. But I let the rest go. Too zen, and far too enjoyable to fall into writing mode – which, sadly, was interrupted about half an hour after it began by my brother returning from the comic shop. Didn’t get upset about it. I know just to shut down. He needs to talk, get out whatever it is that he needs to get out. I don’t really need to reply, just grunt at appropriate times – but if he tells me something he considers important and I don’t remember it because I wasn’t paying attention in the first place – well, then… Hell to pay, a toll which is totally avoidable if I just listen to him. But once he’s broken my train of thought, that’s it. Difficult to return to it. My train of thought is pure and unbroken, and once I’m there I can’t have additional input from anywhere. Just leave me alone and let me get it out. Even saying ‘hello’ to me can throw me. A greeting? What made that happen? What flows from it? …No, just leave me be. *sigh* But, naturally, he didn’t know I’d fallen into that state, nor that he was interrupting me. By the time I could have said something, he’d already spun my head out into a thousand different directions. Too late to pick up the pieces. Allow the interruption to happen, get past it, calm my spirit once again.

I hope to get back to it today.

Dutch, and Dutch homework: can’t be asked. Two weeks left, and I hardly think my teachers would love me for handing in a four page piece of homework they’ll need to spend hours correcting. I know I wouldn’t appreciate it. So I’ll hang onto the homework, and prep it up for my first class after vacation. I should be able to get to it in six weeks. Maybe. I’ll try to be disciplined enough to do it, I swear. My intentions are good on this (and yes, I know, that old saying is enough to imagine me merrily skipping my way down the path to hell, but I really will try).

The read through for the script is called for tomorrow, Monday. Didn’t even have to harp at the director about it! Would like to get a new print up of the entire play. My copy is marked up with red pen: change this or that. Get a good final print for myself. Take a shower so I’m somewhat clean when I go to the meeting. Buy a packet of cigarettes for the director to make up for all the ciggies I’ve bummed from him during breaks. Maybe even pick up a pack of cookies to share out during the reading. That always goes over well.

Think I’ll go back to some make-up today. Took another look at the series of ‘gaunt and exhausted’ make-up I did, and I’m not sure I like the final results. Difficult to say when I’m doing it in my home, under natural light. Stage lighting will change everything I see. I guess I’m pleased I at least have enough experience to know that. I know the make-up needs to be heavier than normal lighting because it won’t show up on stage otherwise. But I feel like my first attempts on the look were too greyed out, too zombie-like. I need to try again and stick to the browns for shading.

Looking forward to July. I’ll spend a few euro on getting some supplies I need and begin running the blood effects tests. And no, at this point I really don’t give a damn if we end up using the effects or not. I’m having way too much fun trying it out to care about that! Will also be buying a packet of make-up sponges. Want to try an idea I have for my wounds, sort of an in-between of the tissue and make-up version I saw and the latex buy it from the shop version. Tee, hee, hee! You have no idea how giggly and exciting I find all this.

…Dr. T said my new med would eventually stabilize me. Get me off my obsessive train and onto a ‘normal’ track. I feel it. It is so easy to say ‘no’ and not be bothered by it. To let it all go. To say ‘okay, you’ve thought enough about that’ and really be done with it. Geez! Is this normal? Really? This is what all you people have been talking about when you told me to ‘just stop thinking about it’? No fucking wonder you could be so complacent about it, so amazed at my inability to stop worrying. Holy Hell! It’s easy on this new med. Like a switch turned on or off.

Or an old cork that finally popped.

Bipolar II

We said we’d treat this as we go. And this isn’t a new thing in your life; it’s been going on a long time. (I nodded.) But it’s going to mean extra medication…

I’d calmed down dramatically by 13:45. If Dr. T had seen me at 11 am, pacing the house, wide-eyed, and talking a mile a minute to myself, he might have prescribed a higher dosage. I’m glad he didn’t.

Quetiapine tablets. Very low dosage of 50mg. Dr. T told me that’s nothing on paper, and most people start at 150mg, but he’s seen some good results from very small doses and considering all the meds I’m on for my RA he wanted to start me out small. I’m on board with that. This increases risks on my kidneys, and means even more blood tests. Maybe they should just insert a shunt into my arm; it would save me scar tissue.

But I was honest. And glad he understood me: I’ve nine months to go on this production and if I keep on obsessing like I’ve been doing this past week I’ll be in hospital in four months.

These are time-released pills, so I have to take them at the same time every day. Dr. T said to take them at night because they might make me drowsy. Decided to move my schedule around a bit so I can take them at 11pm. I’ll be off stage at that point, no matter when the play begins. It means staying up a bit later from now on, whether or not I’m on stage, but only by half an hour. Picking the pills up today.

More determined than ever to get my ass back onto my routine. You don’t have to remind me that regular exercise will help me maintain balance; I know. And I know I’ve been lax on myself. Now that I’ve a wee bit of help to break my obsessing, I’ll be right back on it.

I want the 50mg to work for me.

Here it is Friday and I still haven’t made a start on those homework letters I’m supposed to write. Guess with only two weeks of classes left I’m not that worried about it. Wish I was a bit more concerned about it. Wish I had that impetus to push myself with Dutch. It’ll be harder than ever to maintain over the summer. Oh, there’s always my Dutch films and every advert on tv is in Dutch, but it isn’t the same as talking to someone. I recall I made a vow to find a language cafe to go to every week. Where’s that resolve? Easily answered: out the window, bloody and bruised. That’s where it is.

Haven’t done my weekly house cleaning for a while, and the place shows it. Well, good test for the new pills: slow me down enough to do it. A little toilet scrubbing should remove any last stains of delusions of grandeur. I always say, you can’t be a king or queen while scrubbing out a toilet, and that’s true. It just brings you down to that base level: cleaning up shit. There’s no way to feel grandiose while doing that. No. bleeding. way.

Blood, bleeding, bruised…my language reflects my obsession even when I’m trying to not talk about it.

So talk about it.

Roughed in a playbill. Half-sheet, black & white, just like I said. It looks good to me. The joke I’m telling everyone is the little game I played with director, teasing him with my made-up bruises. It’s going over well, and people are showing an interest both because of what I’m talking about and my sense of humor. Will probably need to ask the director about read-thru dates. As usual, he was on top of it enough to create a Doodle sign-up page, but he hasn’t declared this or that date to be the one. Or maybe he has on Snapchat; that’s the app all the Dutch are using – except me, of course. My phone can’t handle it. [You want Snapchat?! You can’t handle Snapchat! (Sorry, I just had to do that.)] Anyhoo. Will need to follow up with that.

My obsession has not translated into going thru production notes. Yet. I’ve created this mountain of uphill crap in my mind: Oh, Gods! What a drag! It’ll take so long and be so fucking boring! Well, it will take some time and it won’t be the most enjoyable thing to do, that’s true. But it won’t take as long as my head now thinks it will. I feel like my mother, telling myself that. A truism the younger version of me just stubbornly refuses to believe, even tho she has a sense of precisely how true it is. Gods, I’m an obstinate cuss.

Have researched creating fake wounds. Saw a couple of great vids using only paper tissue, glue, and make-up. Still would like to visit the theatrical supply shop here in Rotterdam, but I’m also thinking on creating my own look. A lot will depend on the shop’s pre-made wounds. The on-line tissue and make-up wounds looked a lot better in the vids that the pic the shop showed me of their fake stuff. My problem is that creating my own wounds means I have to do it before the show starts and have them under my clothing the entire time. So I plan the full gambit: create the look, then wrap it up under gauze and wear it around the house for the day. Pull the gauze off in the evening and see if it survived. I’ll only have 5-8 minutes to do it all: bruising, wardrobe change into pre-torn clothes, blood. So it’s got to be quick and easy.

…As for finally being able to put ‘bipolar’ back into my tags because it’s on a sheet of paper… Well, I’m not surprised. Nor shocked. Nor much of anything, other than grateful to Dr. T for listening to me and for making it easy to be honest with him.

I’ve always known what I am.

€8.15

Does it look bad? Painful? Did you suck in your breath and say ‘Oh my God!’ when you saw it?

Good. That’s make-up test number one, face bruising. Completed in less than 5 minutes, using a grand total of €8.15 worth of make-up. I’ll flesh this look out with a cut lip and blood dripping from a head wound.

Today I work on the exhaustion progression for Act 3. I need 3 or 4 (have to count them) looks that get progressively more tired and drawn. Doing the effects, snapping pix, taking notes on what I’m using. Already know I won’t have time to do everyone’s make-up back-stage, so I’m planning on a ‘how to’ meeting with the actors. Have a difficult time believing others don’t know how to do this, but…maybe they’re not as ghoulish as I am. I’ve been doing horror make-up since I began playing with make-up.

Oh, it’s fun! Much more fun that doing make-up the normal way!

Spent hours yesterday typing away, making notes. Have my agenda over the next 9 months roughed in, with marketing release dates already set in stone. Went thru my teaser trailer vid idea and picked dialogue from each act I need to record. Will pull more than necessary so I have room to play with length, etc. Thought about my interviews with cast and crew, getting the local tv station interested in doing a piece on us, sketched out a teaser flyer to release a month before the performance.

And blood, blood, blood. When I have a few euro (which may not be ’til next month, considering I spent my last €8.15 on make-up), I’ll buy red food coloring and chocolate sauce to practice squibs and blood capsules.

My bro has already warned me to run this past the director; I’m overstepping my bounds a bit. But…I’ve not been idle these past two years. I’ve been analyzing the group, noting their strengths and weaknesses. I’ve known from the start that doing this production meant more than just being an actor or writer. I have to step in on make-up, fight scene choreography, special effects, props, and sound.

*sigh* And I see it in their eyes. That slightly glazed look I get at first, then realization that no, I’m not asking them to do anything they don’t want to do and I’ve already planned out this or that. Then they’re all on board. I don’t really know if it’s sheer laziness or admiration for my ideas (or both). But I’m glad I’m given the chance to do it all.

Managed to get up and move a bit, walking around the neighborhood. Have not returned to my gym yet, and I’m really beginning to feel guilty (and fat). Better for me to work on this obsession, let it run out of me. I’d only exercise half-assed anyway, not really into it. If I do all the make-up tests I want to do, I can let it go. Besides, I’m really enjoying playing with all the shading and colors.

Two weeks left of language class. My head just isn’t there, and I’m not the only one. We’re doing the usual: dictation, reading, questions. But I told my teacher about my excitement over the production, and the blood effects I’ll be working on. She laughed in that easy way she has, and it was clear to me she heard me say ‘My focus isn’t on the language right now’. Bless her for understanding my hidden text.

Have an appointment with Dr. T on Thursday. Beginning to feel like my appointments with him are redundant. I’m doing well, nothing really to say. I’m not crying, not upset, and focused on the production. All positives. Might be straying a bit into the obsessive side of things, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It’s keeping me occupied and thinking. Most of all, it’s keeping me positive. Buoyed up by hope and anticipation. Working hard to keep active and take care of myself at the same time. Being kinder to myself. Even liking myself a bit these days.

Managed to keep a lid on my ideas. An additional teaser vid idea came to me: a 3 minute short film related to the play yet not included in the play. It would be killer to do, AND it would offer someone a chance to act a bit even if they’re not in the production. Worried about overloading myself, tho. But I might run it past the director. After filling in my schedule, I realize I could do this over summer. Won’t take long to write, direct, or shoot. And I don’t plan on a lot of edits. Ach! Listen to me. Still arguing with myself.

The sun is shining and my day is ‘free’. Have to use quotes there; plenty for me to do that’s needed but none of it is necessary to do today, so, guess what? It ain’t gettin’ done.

Instead, I’ll be bruising my face. Shading in the dark circles under my eyes, making my cheeks and nose look gaunt and unhealthy. Creating almost every make-up look I want.

All for €8.15.

Theatre people

Theatre people.

Had an email yesterday asking if I wanted to attend an English speaking play downtown. Our theatre group had discounted tickets, and a group was going. Sure! I said last minute, worrying about the discounted price. Managed to get money on my OV chipcard, borrowed a tenner from my bro, tidied up, and headed out.

More than anything, I felt I was appeasing the Gods of Theatre. I’m a big believer in karma: if I want people at my play, I have to support others in their efforts. Plus, it was a kick to be asked and included in the group. All of that was proper and good. The production was at a theatre we use every year, and it wasn’t that full. We were noticed, thanked for coming, and talked to as fellow theatre performers.

But Goddess! I had to sit through a show that was the reason most people don’t like going to the theatre. Two monologues, back to back. Zero action. It was two hours of someone sitting in a chair on an otherwise empty bloody stage, jabbering away. How fucking pretentious can we be? The acting was good – that I can’t fault. I can rip the writing apart, tho.

Typically British writing (white, white, white). Obviously 30 to 40 years old (bigotry, racism, and such stereotypical and old set-ups I had problems staying awake). And it’s a well known author and play. Afterwards, I had to hear the gushing praise of various people: Oh, the author! His words are so fantastic! or The deeper psychological impact of the statements were in direct opposition to the characters. They might as well have said something like ‘The synergy of empty space and lack of action perfectly mirrored the desolation and depression the author wanted to portray’. Utter bullshit. I call it lazy writing. Can’t think of anything new? Well, try one of the stereotypes. The gay man who still lives with his mother and can’t quite admit he’s gay. The vicar’s wife who’s sex starved and begins drinking and having an affair on the side. Ho, hum!

I just sat there, pleased with myself, imagining the action I’ve written. The actual story – something that seems totally lacking in many “professional plays”.

Tried out calling my stuff horror. We were asked, as a group, what we’ll be performing next. Everyone looked at me, smiling. Actually, we’re doing one of her scripts this year. So I put it out there: it’s a horror trilogy. Found some interest, some back stepping, and a lot of ‘oh, gee, isn’t it sweet that they’re willing to do your little writing attempt’ attitude from the actors. I smiled, and didn’t feel bad at all. Just kept thinking You have no idea what you’re in for with my script. Hopefully one or two from last night’s audience will attend our performance. But I realized very quickly: this is NOT my crowd.

Avid theatre goers… They’re a different breed. They like sitting in dark room watching people sitting in chair talking, no action, for two hours. They consider it cerebral and entertaining. Some may even view my script as stupid simply because it has action and a clear story-line.

But I realized long ago I don’t write for the typical audience. My poetry has long been heralded as the poetry enjoyed by people who don’t like poetry. I’ve been stopped innumerable times after performing, grabbed by someone in the audience who says, “I’ve never seen anything like that before! I hate poetry, to be honest, but so-and-so dragged me here. But you! What you do is incredible!” I expect a similar response with the play. I’ve never seen a play like this before! No. No, you haven’t.

Spending long hours looking at creating my own blood effects. Simple and cheap methods. Will be experimenting with water filled sacks over the summer, trying to perfect it. Found a theatrical supply store here in Rotterdam; planning a trip to their warehouse just to check everything out.

Also thinking hard on marketing. I saw the audience last night, and this was a visit from a professional acting group. Didn’t even sell 60 seats. Part of that I blame on the theatre. They’ll announce upcoming productions on their website, but if you don’t know about the theatre you can’t find the info. The location of the place is off an alley-way, so you can’t even count on curious foot traffic.

I have to find a way to get the word out. The real word: You want to see this. This is NOT like your typical play. This is a performance for people who hate theatre.

Rotterdam is a hard nut to crack. Millions of people live here, and a professional theatre group can’t attract 60 people to a Saturday night performance.

…Need to switch gears. Been off with my late nights out, and I haven’t begun writing the letters I need to do for homework. Will try to put a few hours in on it today and get one done. Ugh.

Battling a nasty cough. Still. It gets better, then it gets worse. Total allergy thing; I can feel the drainage down my throat. Having to take cough medicine and allergy pills. Need to assure anyone who hears me cough that no, I’m not dying, it’s just allergies. Bloody annoying, especially since I have to really monitor it and treat it like I’m sick because if I DON’T I will, 100% certainly, get sick.

*sigh* And once again, like with my poetry, I feel I’m stepping into a world I’m not quite ready for. I am a theatre person, an actor, one of the willing. I am not a pretentious prat (a prat, yes, but not pretentious). But here I am, mingling with those who want to delve into the deeper ramifications of a 45 minute monologue about someone’s mommy. So I’ll say it once, and be done with it.

Bah! Theatre people!

It’s a go

The last role is cast. Barring disaster, the production will happen.

Showed up around quarter past 6. The director was in the cafe, as usual. Found him deep in conversation with someone. We went out for cigarettes and a chat, all three of us. Sadly, I can’t tell you the other guy’s name. And I do mean sadly: he was one of those few that gave me that ding! feeling. Immediate connection. I talked up the play, he talked about joining the theater group. He’s Russian, very cool, and someone with whom I could indulge in a bit of flirting from time to time. Hoping he actually will come to the play and get involved.

Saw two actors last night, both female. One was (in the director’s words) a weirdo who contacted him on FB. She’s just in from Italy, and her messages told us she didn’t speak English fluently. But she had long experience in Italian theatre, so he wanted to meet with her. The other actor was a friend of someone already in the cast. She’s from Dublin, and we immediately hit it off in that easy manner that makes me think we could be real friends outside of the group.

The director chose two scenes, and asked me to stand in as the extra characters. I snickered to myself. While these are scenes we’ve used before in auditions, he hadn’t seen my interpretation of them yet and I got this feeling that THAT’s what he was really after. And it was fun to be grumpy Ted, grunting out his replies. It was fun to be fearful Alex, shamefully admitting to self mutilation.

Most fun of all, tho, was the glowing interest showed by the actors. There will come a time – soon – when I’ll step down as the writer and be the actor. I will not correct other actors to my vision or my interpretation; I’ll let them do it their way. But during auditions, I am still the writer. I am still the genius with the inspiration, the master of words, the holiest of holy. And I get a bit of that, especially last night. The actor from Dublin is also a writer, and we chatted away, she giving me gushing admiration for the script, my book, etc. The questions like: How did you come up with this? The slightly fearful and hesitant look everyone gives me when I tell them this is based in fact. Heady, heady stuff. Aaaaaah! 😉

Down to earth. I must admit to some trepidation. We’re set to premiere in February or March, depending on venue availability. Those are the months I’ve typically had massive health problems. So I’m already looking ahead. Reviewing my behavior in the past to figure out how better to protect myself. I will NOT be the reason this has to be pulled at the last minute. My priority is clear: the play is number one. I will forgo my language lessons, my exercise, any socializing, anything that endangers that priority.

I’m old enough to have experienced those rare moments in life when everything just comes together. You’ve got to be ready to seize that. Go for it. Those are the doors to step thru, to get you to another level. I recognize that now. This is one of those moments, or can be if I can juggle things just so. That’s the trick. You’ve got to juggle all the elements, keep things exactly where they should be. And the longer the set-up, the harder it is. This is a nine month set-up. A full pregnancy. And you betcha; this is my baby in every sense of the word.

So, like any expectant mother, I’m gonna be extra, extra careful. The baby takes priority, and becomes my reason for saying no to some things and yes to others. I am excited and a bit frightened. I have dreams for my baby, dreams that it lives and grows beyond me and the small start I help to give it. I’m worried, too, about what could happen to it. But I want it – I need it – to go out there. Pit itself against the critics and nay-sayers, and find out how strong it is. Support it, no matter what.

Was going to say I’d go out for a walk and do this or that today, but the truth is these last two later nights have really thrown me. I’m tired, and could use a day down in front of the tv, napping. So I’ll take it. Errands be damned. Homework be damned. Exercise and fresh air be damned. This is expectant mother stuff. I’m napping.

Taking care of myself starts today.

It’s a go.

Just. be. me.

Why don’t you leave your notebook at home and just treat this as a social outing?

I got that freaky funny laugh, the one that comes from nerves and uncomfortableness. And I thought, yeah, why aren’t I treating this as a social outing? That was 6 pm last night, as I was walking out the door for our theatre group meeting.

I left my script and notebook at home. Downtown to a student bar that had hundreds of beers. Couldn’t resist a raspberry beer…two, actually. Seven of us made the meeting, and it was, as my brother had pointed out to me with his question, more of a social gathering than a work gathering. The night was warm, the beer was good, and the conversation lively.

Difficult to remember most of these actors hadn’t read the full script. They didn’t attend my first read through. Many thought their characters were gonna live thru the play; I had to correct them: everybody dies. If you survive an act, it’s just so you can die in another act. How do I die? I went around the table, telling them each what happens: you set yourself on fire, you get strangled, you’re shot, etc. And oh! The shining eyes that greeted me upon that gruesome news! Never believe an actor who tells you they don’t want to do a death scene. We all want that chance.

Tonight the director and I are meeting with a few people for the last role. Two, maybe three should show up. I very hesitantly put it out there that if we found someone spectacular for my role I’d step down. The director quickly said: No way. The subtext in that, I felt, was that no one can do that role like I can. Maybe he meant he didn’t want to go thru the whole audition thing again, but that’s the way I’m taking it. I’m more than pleased by that.

Much of the work conversation was kept to a minimum. Instead, we did the sort of thing that generally happens when a group of people don’t know each other well. Questions like Do you have children? or What do you do as a living? came up. I was surprised (a bit) at the drug discussion. Even tho marijuana is okay here, it’s still a little taboo. Everybody’s used it, or at least tried it. But most Dutch people don’t partake. Last night I heard about ‘the time I got really stoned’ or ‘when I had a few extra pills and rode the day out on them’. I’m still rather hesitant on admitting I’m a stoner, but did own up to smoking marijuana on a regular basis. I just…I know what most people think of regular smokers. You’ll see their mimicry of stoners all the time. That wasted, hungry, not really moving or thinking version. The ‘Duh-uh Dude’: catatonic and unfocused. That isn’t me, and I don’t want people to think it is. I haven’t yet told them they’ve all been seeing me high this whole time. I haven’t once gone to a theatre group meeting, audition, or rehearsal without first toking. I wrote the play stoned. I got my degrees stoned. And yes, I’m learning Dutch stoned. Pretty obvious I don’t go to that stereotypical state. But despite the culture here, that stereotype still lives on. I don’t know. Maybe I’m one in a million in that respect. I just chalk it up to my artistic temperament. All the greats had something: heroin, cocaine, alcohol. It’s too late in my life to be worried about it. But I still find myself reluctant to own it due to what I perceive as this bias against it. Maybe that’s just me, and the scarring I received about it during my lifetime.

Made a few age jokes about myself last night. Find myself doing that more and more. Conversation zoomed off into games played as kids: remember this console or that game? I sat there, thinking about my first video game: Pong. Yep, you heard me. Pong. Two paddles and ball, back and forth. And later: gee, I had to use a typewriter back when I was in school. My reply: when I was a kid, we had to use a chisel and hammer on stone. I got the laughs I wanted. But I know myself well. I’m using my humor to cover up my uncomfortableness.

It’s weird and odd being the oldest person at a table. I’m sure it’s a bit of a lark if you’re dealing with children, but when it’s adults… Then it’s another matter. Especially when I don’t feel like I’m the oldest adult sitting there. In fact, it makes me feel more child-like and immature than ever. No, I don’t own a home. No, I don’t have children. No, I don’t have investments or a large bank account, nor do I go on holidays every year. I don’t even have a concept of ‘retiring’. My ‘retiring’ is just death.

Also found myself joking about Dr. T. Used the old ‘my shrink’ a couple of times. That’s me getting used to owning up to it.

And I caught the director looking at me a couple of times, as if he saw beyond my jokes and knew what was going on. I wouldn’t be surprised at that; he’s perceptive. He approaches scripts looking at the psychological aspects of the play (and yes, another actor made a comment about what my mind must be like to write something like this).

I’m finding something in this group I didn’t expect: acceptance. Their acceptance is making it easier for me to accept myself. To own up to my depression, my mental health treatment, my problems without shame.

This is a whole new level of social interaction for me. No pretense, no feeling like I have to go along with the group just to have friends. I’m finding how I can be me without coming off overly aggressive or angry.

I can just. be. me.

Right where I am

Round 3. I suppose there was a certain symmetry going on last night. The first audition brought very few people. The second a lot. The third…well, only the actors we asked to show up and give us a bit more came. Problem: we are one body short. Prefer it to be a man at this point; we’re women heavy (did not think I’d be saying that!). Hoping one of the actors can and will pull in some people. Messages are being sent out today, and we should know soon.

And I’m taking a role.

Yes, yes…I wanted it. I wrote it; I wanted it. I knew where I’d put myself in the mix, and that’s precisely where I landed: Elizabeth, mother of the girl who kills herself in act 1. The writer in me found it a bit odd. I began with Elizabeth, focusing on her sorrow. She was a very clear cut, in depth character to me. All I heard from the other actors, tho, was that she was tough to do. Difficult to get right. The director finally had me get up and read a scene as Elizabeth with another actor. It was a scene we’d been doing all three auditions, and no one really got Elizabeth. I, naturally, nailed it. I sat back down by the director and he leaned towards me: Yeah. No one can do Elizabeth like you.

Have been told the production will be in 2019, not this autumn. While a tad bit disappointed (do it, do it, do it!), overall I’m okay with that. I was worried about the timing, the push on the actors, the need to pull everything together in a few short months. Now I can stretch out. February, maybe March. We’ve time to find and buy a decent computer to do the recording on, everyone has plenty of time to rehearse, time to look for props, make-up, practice the fight scenes.

Best of all, tho, was the reaction from everyone when the news came out that we were one person short: concern, worry, real angst over the idea of not being able to perform this particular play. I was told by one actor how much she loved the writing because it wasn’t tied to any particular gender. Oh, man! Someone caught on to that!! I couldn’t be happier. They love the weirdness of it, they love the explosion of emotion in the characters. Eeee! If that’s what I get in a sample of seven people, I’m gonna be overwhelmed at the production. These things always follow percentiles. For instance, I consider it a good blog day if I get about 5% of my followers to like a post. That’s a decent sized percentile when you take all the variables into consideration. Positive feedback on work in person tends to be higher due to social pressure; people don’t like to say negative things (in general) in situations like that. They’ll find something positive to say, even if their hearts aren’t in it. But you can suss those people out. They’re the ones who give you a limp comment, half smile, nod, and then amble away. They never walk away. Too direct. They amble. Shuffle. Wander. Do their best to make it seem like they’re not leaving the conversation when in fact they are. Social pressure positives last night: zero. They may be actors, but none of them are good enough to sustain that level of interest for that long. I should know; I’ve watched them audition.

I am ready to grab life by the balls today. Get to the gym and do a full round of work. Tackle my homework. Smile, keep myself occupied and moving. I feel good.

Dare I say it? I feel so good even my bowels operated at peak efficiency. I almost took a picture of my morning dump because it was so damned shiny and perfect.

… Saw someone go down the grove last night. Two people, actually. Of course, that was just from one side of it; I didn’t see them emerge from the other side. They might have disappeared. My heart doubts it, tho. I think that thing can only emerge during certain times, or to certain people. I haven’t figured out the mythology yet. That’s my problem: I don’t know what I’m dealing with. It’s a puzzle I want to crack – or, from the audience’s perspective, create. And even if I never reveal my reasoning in any of my stories, I need to know it. Without it, you’ve got a story based on old hat scare tactics. If you don’t buy into the FX, you’re not frightened. With it, tho, you can scare the bejeezus out just about anyone.

😀 I like scaring people.

Ba-ba-de-doo-dah. So here’s something that’s bothering me a bit: I was told by the director last night that most people in my age group wouldn’t join our theatre troupe because they’d expect to be paid by this point. Either that or they’re real amateur, and expect very little from any production they’re involved in. Hmmmm. Yeah, I know. I should be getting paid for my work. I should be getting paid as a writer, too. I have been; I’ve got the cheque framed. But, you know – small cheque, and it was the only one (other than some meager royalties from my book sales). *sigh* I am not of the mindset to be financially successful with my art. I do it because I must. Because I love it. Because I want and need that surprise, interest, and support from people. And I’ve always felt that if my art is good enough, it will garnish the finances I need. Which is a double screw, because every time I’m not financially successful I tend to end up thinking my work is shit. But to purposefully hold out just for money… That doesn’t feel right. It makes me feel like a two bit whore.

That thought is so incongruous with my totally good feeling this morning that I reject it utterly.

I’m good, right where I am.

Strung out

Everything becomes a little more difficult when your hands sweat uncontrollably. It’s disgusting. I keep wiping the palms of my hands on my clothing, trying to dry them, but within seconds they’re again covered with sweat. It’s pouring out me.

Strung out. That’s how I feel. Like I’ve come off a cocaine binge or something. Sleep is still off. Food is off. The sweating. That feeling like part of me is jumping up and down, or should be – a restlessness that keeps me moving even when I’m damned tired. Truth is, this happens to me after every performance. …Which is why I don’t perform often. It takes it out of me. I admitted to myself years ago that I could not do the kind of schedule needed to reach a certain star status – not unless all restrictions were gone (like money, so I could go to first class hotels and indulge in a private masseuse to travel with me). I could, however, do more if I had help. This physical kickback is not a choice. It’s just a physical reaction like my RA.

And other than the two beers post performance, I thought I did very well. Stayed away from caffeine. Ate a rice meal. Kept up on fresh air, and movement, and all sorts of things I’ve not bothered to do before. In other words, I really tried. Tried this time to make the transition back as smooth and as easy for myself as I possibly could. And what did I get?

Sweaty hands.

Oh, and don’t tell me to not perform. Don’t tell me to let it go. I can’t. I just can’t. It’s too important to me. The last person to drill that idea into me sent me into a spiral of depression and self hate for 35+ years. I don’t have another 35 years to figure this out!

Thursday I see Dr. T. That alone is pushing me to class this morning. To say my head isn’t on Dutch would be an understatement. I’ve really got to slow down to form any kind of coherent sentence. Therein lies the problem: go to class this hyper and unfocused and risk an outburst, or stay in and go to my appointment on Thursday barely able to say anything. Hm…

I’ll decide after I eat. If I eat (and Red Velvet Cake doesn’t count).

Seeing M yesterday was great. She has such style! Perfect hair, clear skin, her outfit form fitting without being too tight (and all in black, naturally). Gods, I envy her that. We talked about my script, and the possibility of her auditioning for it. Can I say – WOW! She laid it out for me: her schedule, the fact she’s living near Amsterdam so travel one way would be an hour and a half, etc., and she still seemed like she wanted to do it. I feel so…I don’t know. Apologetic, I guess. I didn’t realize all that. I’d love her to do it, and I think she’d be great and have fun, but…honestly, I’d say no. It’s a lot to ask. She’s got that youth on her side, though. I sent her the script this morning, so she could look at the story, and said I’ll let her know when the group holds auditions. The best thing for it is just to see if she can make an audition and talk to the director about her travel and time restrictions.

Heard from S, too. I wrote to her last week, filling her in on my new medication. Guess I was a little too blunt about my condition; she said she’d been afraid to answer me, because she wasn’t sure what to say. I apologized for frightening her and assured her that the main point was I’m doing better, and happier for it.

Ach! And I still have glue on my eyelids from those false eyelashes…

Better sleep last night. A full nine hours. Headache this morning I can’t pin down. Tension? Anxiety? Hypomania? Dehydration? Sinus infection? Brain tumor?

Who the hell knows?

Particularly sensitive to smell right now. Just opened a window. Usually, the house has very good ventilation and even tho we both smoke, you don’t smell it. But now is one of those times: I smell it, and I can’t stand it. Open the fucking window. And close the curtains, because even tho it’s cloudy it’s too bright (tho then I’ll need the lights on because it’s too dark in the room).

Like I said: strung out.

Time to shut down

I can never sleep well after a performance. My body, like it or not, is set on its schedule and performances and the world be damned if it’ll stay in bed an extra few hours because I’ve been up late.

Ah! And now I understand. I’ve heard so much about performing in Amsterdam; the audiences are tough, the standards are high. Yes, the audience was tough. By the time the third act rolled around, they were laughing loudly but the first… The first act’s job is to warm up the audience, and I was never so aware of that as I was last night. Sure fire gags to get a big laugh stuff suddenly fell on silence. It was a cold audience, no friends or family there to cheer us on, just people who came to see a show. I felt it and folded it right back into Wendy’s nervousness. I looked towards the audience more often, used that fake smile that fell in an instant showing she really wasn’t enjoying the situation, fidgeted, blew my nose loudly, belched, whined in that whiny voice, and finally – finally! – near the last 10 minutes of the act began to get real laughter in response.

The owner of the place met us in the afternoon. He shook my hand and said hello. The group went to dinner at a place nearby (good food), and when we came back I transformed: the lashes, the blue eye shadow, the bright red lipstick, the ugly leopard print blouse, the hair pulled back with two garish clips, the glasses. The walk came in, and the voice came out. The owner passed me again, in make-up, and said hello: Wendy responded. We did our thing, hitting lines and marks the entire time. Curtain call. Then I hurried backstage to take Wendy off before joining everyone at the bar. The owner was serving, and I had two beers on tap. Finally, after most of the guests had left, the owner stopped by our celebrations to speak to us once again. He looked straight at me and a puzzled frown came over his face. Sorry, what was your name again? he asked me. I introduced myself. Then the penny dropped. Oh my God! You were in the first act! I would have never recognized you! Jesus, what a transformation! You’re one hell of an actress! The owner looked dazedly around at the other members of the group, as if to ask do you people know what you have here?

Most of the conversation before the performance was geared towards the performance, as you might imagine. We were all focused on the task. But the conversation afterwards… I have been accepted as a full-fledged member of the group: they’re teasing me. One would ask: So, do we have any idea what script we might do next? And the director would answer: Oh, I don’t know…maybe I’ve found one… all the time with sly looks aimed at me and grins they couldn’t quite hide. Auditions were discussed. Timelines. I found more enthusiasm from the members than I initially expected.

Oh, they’re not doing it because they feel they have to, or just because they can do without paying royalties! They like having me there! I was included in backstage pix, crowding around and hamming it up for the camera just like I see other people doing. I was hugged both formally and informally – sometimes just an arm slung around my shoulders in an inclusive camaraderie that I felt on a new level. Yea! I’ve found it so difficult for so long to find people I have anything in common with. And although I still would like a bosom buddy, I find having a circle of friends like this is almost as good. It is immensely gratifying to honestly say I’m not worrying about what was said or done last night; there is nothing to hash over. Nothing other than the warm memory of the smiles and the laughter, the excitement and expectation.

Wow. Put that one down on the calendar! I don’t think I’ve ever been able to say that before.

Class on Monday is looking less and less likely. I heard from my friend and film co-star; she plans to be shooting until the evening, so I’m looking at a late night again. Good time to catch me, when everything’s topsy turvy from the performance. I’ll nap this afternoon with the tv on and stay up later.

Snick. Wendy is gone; the magic silver ring is back in my ear.

Auditions might be called yet this month. The re-writes are done. Still have to check page numbers on tech notes. Still have to think about the legal end, too: I want releases for recorded voice and/or video sequences, and I want something between myself as the playwright and the group just to cover my ass. Those things fall to me to write. I don’t need complexity, just clarity. This is mine, you can’t do it without my permission, you understand your voice will be used in a performance and all rights to the recordings remain ours, etc. I’m not a fan of legal writing, but I can do it.

Will need another meeting with the director. Need to map out the schedule, especially the sound which I suspect will take longer than the actors. I want to move on that over summer holiday, so we have at least the roughs to use in rehearsals. …Ach, I will not have my notes fully made for any podcast/audio versions. I just won’t. It’s too much to pull it apart and re-write. Damn. Oh, well.

This production will help me in the next. And the next will help me in the first film version. And the first film version will help me the next time, when it goes full-length and big budget…

Yeah, yeah. We all know where that line of thought takes us.

…It’s Sunday. Time to shut down.