My phone rang, well, it vibrated, and I couldn’t answer the small electronic device. I was at my part time gig, serving food to customers and the general rule is “Never answer your phone as a waiter during shift.” I let the maddening, vibrating piece of plastic continue on its persistent journey to fruitlessness. After all, if it were an important call the person on the other end would leave a message.
Moments later I locked myself in the bathroom, dug the phone out of my pocket and checked the number of the missed call. There was no name, no blocked caller, just a bunch of digits I didn’t recognize. Also, the little red 1 was flashing above the message icon. I clicked on the icon, put the phone to my ear and it was one of the board members of the theatre company informing me that we were in fact going to open and perform on the already scheduled dates. However; since we had missed over two weeks of rehearsal, we were not going to do the play. Nope, instead we would be doing readings of the Bard’s sonnets or specific monologues which we could pick out ourselves. Lastly; if we were comfortable, we could perform scenes from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” if we wished.
This has all transpired in the past week. Our opening is tomorrow. Most of us can’t make it simply because we all told our respected boss’s that we were available to work and our boss’s put us right back on their schedules.
We have four performances the company has commuted too and there may be five people performing on any given day. So we went from a cast of fifteen and a full production to a hodge-podge, rag tag troupe of performers trying to memorize sonnets and monologues.
I am only available for two of these performances and instead of volunteering to do a monologue or sonnet, I am sticking to what I know. My character and what I’ve memorized and practiced. When I talked to the other actors in the scenes I wanted to do, they agreed.
Tonight, we practiced those scenes. Then a bomb was dropped on me. The board member who is doing all this work said she had several modern pop songs that were rewritten in the voice of the “Bard”. I looked over the list and found one I wanted to do. I snatched the paper and began reading it aloud on stage in the parameter of Ol’ Bill.
I loved it, but I didn’t finish it.
I stopped cold in the second stanza before the chorus and put the paper back down on the stage and stepped away. I didn’t do this out of fear or nervousness. No, I did this because I knew that in the end, when all was said and done, I would be asked to do more. Because I felt the passion flowing through my veins as the words flowed from my mouth and I felt the adolescent excitement of joy coursing through my body.
That is one of my fears, my foibles, and my “step on the brakes” points in life. Maybe you’ve experienced it, or maybe not. I don’t know and I can’t speak for you.
You see, as my spouse told me not so long ago “Your greatest fear is becoming a success. Of having people look up to you and you being who you are, are afraid of letting them down.” Which is true. I don’t seek out the spotlight. I do like performing and I like the process of creating but I don’t like the accolades or attention. Never had, and I don’t think I ever will. That sort of things makes me uncomfortable and I always feel like I’ll say something stupid. Which I really shouldn’t worry about since I say stupid stuff all the time.
Sometimes I do it just to get a person’s reaction and judge what type of person they are and where they will fit in my life. When I do this, most people fail and we part ways amicably. No harm, no foul. Just a parting of ways by people who are not compatible. Yet, when I do meet like-minded folks whose tender feelings aren’t bruised or abused by my off-handed comments or actions, we get along like long lost brothers and sisters. It’s a good feeling.
But, I digress.
The fact is, while I like being creative, I don’t like all the craziness that may come with success. Not that I will ever be successful. Or, that I am all that talented. No, I just like to have some fun at what interests me or helps me become a better person. Personally, not professionally.
Some have accused me of arrogant humility maybe that is true, maybe not. All I know is that I have heard plenty of horror stories of success and its trappings that I really don’t want any part of it. Well, that’s not true, to be honest, I’d like to have some of the money the “successful” folks have. Hell, to just pick up the phone as it rings and say “Sure, I’ll be there for 10 grand.” Is quite liberating. But is it worth it?
I don’t know. And I don’t know if I want to find out.
After all, what is a person’s privacy worth?
A ten thousand dollar appearance fee? Five thousand? A million?
We all have our price, I know we do. I know I do. But what is the fallout? The collateral damage we have to pay? I’ve no clue.
Until then though, I’ll stick to being who and what I am. I’ll be the “Bottom Feeder” that Mr. Joe Landsdale so eloquently called me. He didn’t say it in anger, rudeness or out of spite or just to be mean. No, he used it as a simple description of how he saw me and many others like me. I will wear that label as a badge of honor. Especially in a couple of days when I’m donning my fat suit, my fifteenth century trousers and overcoat to perform on stage. I’ll also wear that title with distinction in a couple of weeks when I stand in front of an audience and read aloud to them one of my own original stories.
After all, learning theatrical skills can only help one improve themselves when they are standing in front of a bunch of strangers and telling an original story. Right? After all, William Shakespeare did say “All the world is a stage and all the men and women are merely players; they have their exits and entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts, his act being seven stages. At first the infant mewling and puking in the nurses arms.”
Have a great week.