Friday, February 15, 2013

Nice To Meet You. Again.

I stayed in and instead of doing homework or obsessively running lines I talked to my roommates.  Now don't get me wrong - it's not as though I usually ignore them or there is some sort of tension.  Nor are we all particularly quiet people. . .

But life is busy.  It's so busy.  Especially the way we each choose to live it, all of us some combination of taking maximum credits, being on Dean's List, performing in at least one show, being involved with two or three, working one or two jobs, and juggling long (and well loved) lists of friends and even trying to squeeze in things like hobbies, the gym, etc.  And while they are a couple, and in all of the same classes, and happen to be performing in the same show (I am doing lighting for it and haven't been at rehearsals yet, not for another few days) I am in none of their classes. And I'm won't be onstage with them.  So even though we share this apartment - these couches, cabinets, and chores - and even though we see each other on a daily basis, and even though we're truly close friends sometimes we become the proverbial ships in the night, passing each other on our separate voyages.  

Me stumbling groggily to the kettle while he fumbles for the coffee maker.  Nods of acknowledgement.  "How was your day," "oh good xyz happened, yours?" "mmm," exchanged between her and I.  Notes as though written by phantoms, left in the place of a roommate  as reminders for cable and keys, thanks for thoughtful gestures, questions about schedules.

To put a face to the notes again: to let my eyes really see the lines of his jaw and the quirk of his eyebrows when he's amused or the twist of them when he's contemplating.  To readjust to the sight of how beautiful she really is, how lovely and glowing and the way any interesting conversation animates her.  

 Falling into each other's cadences again, and remembering why we chose to live together in the first place: the quirks and oddities and habits, the ticks and jokes and ideas that made us think forming a little home, a little family, together in this apartment was a good idea.

She & I laying on beds, feet in the air, sweat pants on and make up off, fantasizing about how to spend a trillion dollars.

Sitting on counter tops across from each other, my legs criss crossed and pulled to my chest while his long ones hang over the edge, discussing nothing at all with total seriousness and earnestness.  

Stopping the busy to find each other, and going to bed remembering why we came together to begin with.  

I suddenly and more clearly appreciate what people mean when they say "making time for each other." or "taking the time to get reacquainted," with someone.  Relationships - even the most secure, the most steady, the most even and gentle and the ones that can be reduced to grunts over coffee and nods over homework - require special love and care and tending.  Tonight has inspired me to take the time more often to simply speak, with no intention other than a.) to be heard and then b.) to listen intently and freely and without any other objective.  It is amazing what you can learn, even about the people you share the most intimate parts of your life with, this way.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pneumonia Sucks, Festival Rocks.

These are the lessons the waning days of January and the opening days of February taught me.  To summarize briefly why I have been absent since my last, rather exuberant and somewhat scattered, post, I will simply say: bacterial bronchitis.  pneumonia.

Remember my post about being sick from a few weeks back?  In it I explained that the last three weeks of my winter break were devoted entirely to bed rest as I got the nasty flu that had been terrorizing the eastern seaboard.  Unfortunately, because my "health insurance" is somewhere between joke and sham, as most college coverage plans are, I could't afford treatment.  That + resuming a daunting schedule + the grips of winter = the flu deteriorating in to laryngitis and fatigue which slowly evolved itself into a nasty form of bacterial bronchitis and pneumonia.  Well, in theory it includes pneumonia. . . I can't actually afford both the testing and the medication, you see.  So we opted to proceed as though I have pneumonia, which seemed incredibly likely as I lay in Wellness coughing until my diaphragm spazzed out, I vomited, and started seeing stars.



But the second part of this post's title is "Festival Rocks."  So let's talk about that now shall we???

Festival - the nickname for KCACTF or The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival is something you can read more about in the link imbedded above: my school is part of Region 1 and we got to spend our week of acting, stage craft, competing, performing, master classes, workshops, lectures, and networking in Cape Cod MA.  I attended KCACTF as a Stage Management Fellowship Nominee and Irene Ryan scene partner  which are both competitions, one for stage managing (obviously) and the other for acting. My Festival Week went as follows:

Tuesday: final rehearsal for Irene Ryans rounds.  Review materials for my book and display.  Load in to the car with my darling Louque Gaga (nickname for one of my friends here on campus. He's marvelous). Spend almost two hours singing showtunes obnoxiously.  Arrive at our hotel, check in, find our roomates for the week (my actualy roomate + a fellow senior + an alum here to compete in the Ryans).  Unpack, do final prep on my production book, have a group rehearsal for Irene Ryans, eat pizza that Papa Jim (one of our two accompanying faculty members) bought us all.  Try to sleep.

Wednesday: Up at 6am w/Lil. Gym. Back to the room to do hair, makeup, and get dressed. 7:30 last minute run through of Irene Ryans scene w/the nominee.  7:45 check in for our round.  8:00am curtains up.  9:30 - 11:15 Ryans response (this is where specially trained and selected "real world grown ups" meaning faculty and directors from other schools, give feedback, critiques, and opinions on how each competitor and their partners did.  Incredibly insightful). 11:15 - 11:25 runlikehelltochangeoutfit. 11:30 - 1:00pm set up for the Design Management and Tech Expo (DMT for short).  1:00pm - 1:00am nap, workshops, continue refining book and display, watch other Ryans rounds, find out nominee and I didn't move on in the Ryans but my two roommates (real life roommates, not Festival roomates) did and so did one of the other seniors competing and her partner. Eat something, meet up with friends old and new, go to bed.

Thursday: Up at 7:00am. Gym. Work DMT as part of my Stage Management Fellowship nomination with Louque-Gaga.  All. Damn. Day. And. Evening. When it finally ends, eat something, stretch, go over game plan for interview portion of the SMF competition.  Watch semi-finals of Irene Ryans.  See friends kick ass. Take a Fosse workshop and get offered a spot in the Boston Theater Project's Summer Intensive in Tampa FL. Resume friendseeking/making/hanging out with from the night before. Get really anxious for interview. Finally fall asleep with lights on: Lil and I are snug in our bed, other roommates never reappear after dinner.  

Friday: Other two roommates fine, found old friends from HS.  Continue running DMT as part of competition. Have interview portion. Find out the senior girl and her partner (both of whom I've been friends with since freshman year) have moved on to finals.  Freak out. Cheer on other contestants in the DMT's final day, many of whom are now my friends.  Finally get to see a show ("The Foreigner"), laugh ass off, at intermission boldly march up to some fellow Ryans and tell them how much I loved their stuff and it's a pity they didn't move on.  Repeat the friends thing. Sleep.

Saturday: strike DMT. Cross fingers/pray for Senior Duo to Kick. Ass. at the finals, and for all my friends in Ten Minute Plays to be awesome. Audition for Commonwealth Shakespeare Company's Summer Apprenticeship.  Find out one of the adjudicators of the DMT wants my resume and contact information. Am tentatively offered a potential job in NYC post graduation with a lighting firm. Give in to days of hunger and exhaustion: split chicken tenders and fries with Lil.  Take nap. Hit hot tub.  Lil convinces me to do my hair and put on a dress, though I decide not to wear makeup.  Go to Awards Ceremony, which is the first part of closing out Festival.

At Awards Ceremony: cheer like a lunatic for my friends who won things in the DMT (Louque and I don't win for stage managing: we didn't expect to, we're our school's first ever representatives and we're just really amazed to even be there). Then acting awards start being handed out.  The first is Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, who announce the two people they've selected to be their apprentices and to receive scholarships to the summer training course to boot.

- Immediately go in to shock as my Theatre Department erupts in screams and applause as my name is called as one of the 2013 CSC Interns.  This gives me guaranteed performances within a few weeks of graduation, will help me earn almost all my Equity Eligibility Points, reduces my cost of training by more than half, and launches me full-steam-ahead in to the world of Shakespearean Theatre.  Eventually, I have the good sense to cry.  

- My roommate (not Lil, but the other one - Thing 1, I call him) receives an award for his vocal work as an Irene Ryan.

-My dear friend Robby receives Merit Award for his performance in the Music Theatre Initiative/Richard Maltby Jr competition

-Senior nominee wins Best Comedic Actress.  At this point, my entire school is crying more or less.  Most of us have very little voices left.  There are bruises from hands being held too tight and too rowdy rounds of applause.

-The Senior duo wins. My beloved department will be representing our entire regionin Washington D.C. in a few weeks, as two of my most longterm college friends grace the Kennedy Center as the best actress and best partner in the region.  My beloved department, whose BA is less than a year old.  My girl who has had her heart broken and remade before my eyes.  My dear friend who was almost unable to graduate with us, and has served his nominee as a perfect partner.  They received the last and most prestigious award of the night.  I received the first and newest.  Eventually the President of our College herself writes to tell us how proud she is of our class. 

- Then it's the dance.  To read more fully about everything that night felt like, you can read here.  It was magic, I tell you.

Sunday: we pack up, hug it out, hand in keys, and drive home again.  Hearts light and minds filled, I breathe as slowly as I can while Louque speeds along the highway, trying to relish the impact of this last golden Festival.

Such an experience, dear readers, such joy, I wish to you all. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sights and Sounds and Sudden Joy.

Oh, oh, and oh! once again.  What a lovely past few weeks - and what an inspiring past few days.  And what an incredible night.  The sound of my name, coming across the audience.  The way my stomach - fwoosshh - swept out from me, falling beneath the floor which somehow I seemed to be floating above, as my heart, clearly in response to this new zero gravity feeling rose up in to my throat.  My hands flew to my face and I became acutely aware of the shouts, screams, hollers, and many clapping, slapping, squeezing hands of my Theatre department.  Searching wildly for my Professor's eyes, and my roomates' eyes, someone to look at me and tell me without words - for I could not hear them if they'd been spoken, such was the ruckus around me - that I hadn't imagined it.

"Stand up!  You have to go onstage!" and then "Oh! Oh my God!" and instead of standing I dip my head briefly between my knees and only then push myself up, thinking thank goodness that my roomate did my hair and insisted I wear heels.

The walk to the stairs and suddenly understanding yes, yes, good God yes, my friends from school are loud - but there are other voices, too, other faces, and as I take the row of high fives and then half-trip my way up the stairs, my eyes scan and pick out faces.  Faces from this summer, a boy who worked on a show with me.  And the kid whose costume design I loved, and the girl whose voice makes me weep, and the two boys whose acting was technical and passionate, and the kid from the shuttle and the teachers I worked with and they're clapping, too.  They're screaming my name and waving their hands and I feel the tears start to come and with shaking hands I take my folder, from the lady, bathed in stage lights, who extends it to me.

And then my Professor is hugging me and tears are in his eyes and my hand is still shaking and my God, it's really really real.  And then the names keep coming - awards and honors and scholarships and competitions, my roomates and my yearmates and my beloved friends are awash in accolades, festooning our school and department in honor.

And then we are dancing, all of us, singing along and hoisting our main prize winner, a wonderful girl, high in the air.  And sometimes I am in the air too - whirled and twirled and tossed by the friends I have made here, this week, these five glorious days of Festival, and they ask for a dance or if I'd like a drink and tell me how pleased they are someone they knew has won, has been recognized.  And the girls from school hold my hands and cry and offer to give me their tips until I have the last little bit of money I'll need, and the boys sling their arms around my shoulders or hoist me in the air and proudly spin me around, as though I am the most wonderful thing they've ever seen and my heart squeezes almost as tightly as my hand is held as I rest my head against various shoulders, trying valiantly to breathe.  The Professor and the Department Head hug me and tell me they're proud, and I get light headed to think I have done something right, and the Professor kisses the top of my head and urges me back to friends, new and old.

My Boyfriend tries to make sense of my words, from hundreds of miles away, and my sisters give their praises and my big brother cheers from the other end of the phone. Mum tries to take it all in.

And then I'm dancing again, and singing again, and the lights are beautiful and the winter night air is sharp and stinging and cold and I run out in to it, like a child, to swirl around in the snow and catch flakes on my tongue.  The music echoes in my heart and my friends' faces (new & old) swirl into a blur before my teary eyes as I climb the stairs to bed, the warm pressure of half a dozen goodbye-hugs pressed against me.

I am happy.  And so lucky.  And I promise, dear readers, to make more sense in the morning - for the sun will be rising soon and while I can, I must steal just a few hours rest.