Our daughter is a theater veteran. She was on stage for more than a hundred performances in I think five different plays this last year. And she loves it and I know exactly where she gets it. She is ten and her dedication inspires me. Plus, she is fearless which is infectious to be around everyday.
This has been my outgoing email tag for the last three years, "If I could be someone else I would be me." Tess Meggison, 7 yrs old
So, last night in honor of Tess and the little Tess in a lot of us, I did something I haven't done since I lived in Los Angeles in nineteeen-eighty-wow-has-it-been-that-long?: I went to an audition. I drove down to the DM Playhouse to try out for the play she auditioned for the night before: Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Quick brag on our metro Theater community. I've been to shows in blackbox to huge theaters from Phoenix to Los Angeles to Chicago to Costa Rica and I can tell you with heartfelt sincerity: DM not only holds its own--it has an excellence all it own; it is thriving, expanding and rich (we are especially grateful to and fond of Curtain Call Kids, Des Moines Young Artists' Theater and Des Moines Playhouse for their training, opportunities and love for Miss Tess). Go to the theater immediately! End PSA.
So our favorite theater parent and pal Miss Denise was there, thank Heaven, so I plopped it down next to her before the song. She embodies encouragement and her talent is only surpassed by her heart.
But me? I am a pretty good singer. The song I chose because I decided an hour-ish before the audition to actually go was the Mac Davis classic, "Oh Lord, It's Hard to Be Humble" (and in light of my dancing, it isn't actually at all).
Some folks say that I'm "egotistical"
Hell I don't even know what that means.
I guess it has something to do with the
Way that I fill out my skintight blue jeans.
Ohhh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way.
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cause I get better looking each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man.
O Lord it's hard to be humble
But I'm doing the best that I can."
My twist on the song was to sing it like it was a revelatory song. So, like on No One Thinks You Can Dance, wait, I mean The Voice: I slowed the roll and sang it a cappella. My goal was to blow them away with my choice, acting chops and song-take all in forty seconds--so you discover that instead of being hilariously haughty like Mac, the character singing is actually discovering as he sings the lines that he may be the loneliest man who ever lived. Because that's the actual fruit of pride. Well, that's what I was going for, anyway. I was actually choked up by the end, proud of "the work" and as they say...scene.
I could just stop there and marvel. SeeMegs? It wasn't so hard: once I decided not only did I want to do it, I was going to do it.
Huh. Writing for others to read after many years away hasn't been that hard, either: once I decided I not only wanted to, I was going to. In fact, that's why Im going to announce the title of my first book right here and right now Go to Now: The Procrastinators' Guide to Killing Tomorrows' Time Vampires Today (a spiritual guide). I began its working title The Procrastinators' Guide to Tmro about the time of my last audition. Yes, the irony to me is delicious like quitting smoking on Ash Wed. Ebook at least, no later than November, this year (any of you ebook-savvies, reach out, wudja?).
Anyway, when I auditioned in Los Angeles a few times for different things, I was so nervous it was near-paralyzing. And you don't perform well when you're nervous. And I didn't perform well. Well, anywhere. So, yesterday morning, this was Graham Cooke's post.
http://brilliantperspectives.com/how-to-overcome-your-fear/ (Graham has been one of my primary spiritual fathers and how-to go-to's without his knowledge for years. I resonate with His heart).
So, I won a book at our friends' white elephant party a few Christmases ago called Dancing with Cats and the title is not-in-the-least misleading. The cats themselves look like they're trying to find the number for animal rescue. Like me, last night when they announced we were heading down to the TIG.
Sweet Lord, Megs-dancing? (TIG stands for theater in Ground, I learned after I got home and Christine let me in). My dancing is closer to the wonky willies. Think interpretive modern dance except they're trying to choreograph me, meets please stop doing that, sir. I got the six step high-knee march down, though.
Tess said on the way to school a little while ago: Yet, Daddy. You're not a good dancer, YET. I love that perspective. I can still grow. (Great book on topic, Mindset by Carol Dweck.)
So the dancing portion of the evening will not need much additional narrative here, other than to say, just wow. I didn't expect to be that quite that ridiculously awful. When it was time for old 10a (my assigned number) to hoof it, old tena about hoofed it out the door. But it was fun. One of life's golden keys: never take yourself too seriously. (Cue Tiny Dancer...)
Then we dashed back up to sing just a little more and that is where I realized I'm both a little up-close blind and when nervous and lost, pitchy as the first past of AmIdol. I couldn't make out the lyrics of the grampa fizzy drink song. The director and music director were fantastic. I could match sort of in ensemble with direction but my solo effort was, suffice to say, we are not waiting by the phone.
But I didn't really go so much to get cast.
Did you ever just do something because you feel like you're kind scared to?
So, why don't you?
You won't maybe be great first time out of the box in years--but it's ok. It's just your first time in awhile, probably.
I always ask people when they're trying to learn to hear from God--"Do you speak Japanese?" and they almost always say no. And I ask them why not. And they say because nobody ever taught them and I say, well there you go. Why would you think you'd be brilliant at it, already?
My "instrument" has mostly sat in a different world life since a little before the Northridge earthquake (if you don't count my Fluffy Kitty, MobBoss/Identity Thief impressions designed to wake the three amigos up on the way to school).
I will not be playing Willie Wonka this year. But the fear of auditioning because I haven't auditioned since Reagan was President is behind me.
What do you need to wave at in the rearview mirror once you get it behind you?