Artist in Residence: Fringe Seacoast
One of the most terrifying and gratifying things in my line of work is ‘opening night.’ The moment when years of work is finally proclaimed ready for consumption and given to whomever decides it’s what they want. I am usually not a very nervy performer. I practice a lot, and I’ve done the performing thing scads of times, so I can trust myself. But I must say, for the opening of The Trial of Typhoid Mary, I had a flock of butterflies dancing inside of me.
This is my first play where I had created all of the words and characters myself. (Before I go on, I must say: Liz Faiella did huge amounts of the creation and performance of this piece. I’m merely talking about my role as lead actor/creator, not Liz’s as lead musician/composer.) Over my career as a performer, none of the work I’ve done could have its failure pinned directly on me. Or it’s success. This generally ameliorates any excessive worry about my own performance. Not so when I have 20 pages of monologues (and 1 person dialogues) to deliver. It’s amazing to see how much I can rely on my craft. I’m in my head trying to remember what order the lines are supposed to go, while my body goes boldly onward, connecting with the audience on it’s own. I prefer to keep all of myself in the same place, but in a pinch- wow do I have good training. I got through the whole show and only had to check Liz’s script once, in a highly choreographed, character driven way. What a thrill!
It has been wonderful to get feedback from the audience, most especially that- it’s working. The playwrighting is sound and not confusing. The music is engaging and moving. Most of the metaphors sunk in. Not a perfect play, but one that people said they wanted their friends to see. Perhaps it is bragging to share that, but because of the immense vulnerability I have needed for this process, it is important for me to proclaim that it was all worth it. I have been a playwright for years, maybe forever, but I now feel like I can claim that title in a new way. I’ve got a play I wrote written down, and proof that it was performed. What a milestone. We moved the audience, and shared a story. I feel triumphant, I could wave a banner. Two years later, I’ve made my ‘solo show’ a reality. It’s not a solo show anymore, but it is better and totally different from what I originally imagined.