Monday, September 23, 2019

SHOCKER: Abby Is Still a Weird Theater Kid

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^This is a photo I took of the cast meet and greet for Jupiter Theater Company's Winter season, in case anyone was wondering. No one was looking except Jon and Nick. I just wanted to catch the mood and the pretty lights. Apologies to everyone involved.

I mistakenly assumed that my career in theater would end in college.
But the weird world of theater is like a whirlpool. It just. Keeps. Sucking you. Back. In.

I never meant to enter that world in the first place. My college's theater group, Eden Troupe, was holding auditions for a late fall production of It's a Wonderful Life: The Musical. It was my sophomore year. I was taking 18 credits that semester. I had absolutely no time for extra-curricular activities, but a "friend" dragged me to auditions anyways pleading the need for moral support.

My moral support audition turned into a call back, which turned into the singing role of Tilly.
I don't think I slept for three months.

As often happens with theater, my friend group became the cast. I spent most of my time with George Bailey and Clarence and our mutual friend Ellyse, who roped me into spending hours painting detailed sets to Taylor Swift's, then newly released, 1989. As much as I loved being onstage, I loved being backstage even more. I loved creating a separate, magical world an audience could live in for a couple of glittering hours.

I remember sitting in the shadows backstage during a show waiting for one of my scenes and watching this wide-eyed kid, one of the Bailey children, a four or five-year old, just standing, inches from the curtain, still as a statue, peering through a crack of light, completely enthralled with the stage and the magic of that night.
I think I cried.

It was the first and only time I've ever been paid for a performance. Eden Troupe is meant to be non-profit so there are rules as to how much money it can make from a show, but we oversold our projections and made too much on Wonderful Life. It couldn't all go into the Eden Troupe coffers, so every member of the cast got five dollars. I have never felt richer in my life. I still have that five-dollar bill.

The next semester I stage-managed a super-minimalist show called John, His Story, which launched me into stage-managing that semester's second show: Henry V, my first ever Christian Fernandez Theater Experience, and my first ever Shakespeare production ("first ever" items listed in order of importance).

Now the thing to note about a Christian Fernandez show is that any and all involvement in said show is At Ones Own Risk. You Never Know what you're getting into. Sure, I'll be your stage manager turned into, Sure I'll paint that Agincourt battle scene from this Age of Empires screenshot you've provided me across these four pieces of backdrop. And Before I Knew It, I was applying fake blood backstage to the faces and arms of battle-hardened warriors and trying to tell it apart from the real blood, of which there was an inordinate amount. I've come to realize that real blood, bruises, sprains, and more are par for the course in Fernandez shows. But like #worthit.

I meant this to be the end of my theater career. It should have been the end. I left school after sophomore year for financial and emotional reasons. But what have I said?

One Does Not Simply Walk Away from Theater. 

Enter Elisabeth Wilk.

The Fall of what would have been my junior year but wasn't, Elisabeth Wilk (along with Graham Jackson) directed Six Characters in Search of an Author by Louigi Pirandello. The play was post-modern in every way, and I ended up with a meta-role that was Stage Manager (the character) and stage manager (the position), rolled into one.

Now, I don't regret the experience at all, but this play was Brutal. The subject matter and the emotions the cast lived in those few months were Hard. I exited that play feeling proud of my performance, particularly that gut-wrenching scream at the end, but Quite Ready to leave acting alone for a bit and focus on all the brokenness in my own heart and life that I'd just unearthed.

But Then.

I made the mistake of just getting a Teensy Tinsy bit involved in Jupiter Theater Company's summer production of As You Like It this year, directed by non other guessed it...Christian Fernandez. Alllll I did was run around in a merry-man costume for a trailer. That's it. And then, of course, I saw the production.

But that was all it took.

A couple months later I was sitting on Elisabeth Wilk (now Kamakawiwoole)'s couch, filming silly audition videos for three different minor roles, of which I received Jacquenetta in Love's Labour's Lost and a couple weeks after that I was explaining to my husband that I was going to be seeing these two other men and getting pregnant by one of them. He was very supportive.

I have been OFFICIALLY sucked back into theater. And not just any theater. This is NOT ONLY Shakespeare, but Christian Fernandez Shakespeare. And NOT ONLY Christian Fernandez Shakespeare but Elisabeth Kamakawiwoole X Christian Fernandez Shakespeare.


Love's Labours Lost is a play about a bunch of princes who've taken vows and passed laws against having anything to do with women in order to focus on their bookish studies for a while. LOL.
Enter Some Women.
These silly princes promptly fall in love with said women and run around trying to hide it from each other. There's intrigue and drama and sonnets and Latin and Napoleon and a Whole Lot of Shenanigans.

My character is a little country wench in a scandalous and station-complicated love triangle.
I Love Her, and I'm going to do my best to make the audience fall for her too and cry for her by the end of the play. *Spoilers*

We had our first full-run through of this play on Saturday, and I Am So Excited. We have such a talented and quirky and crazy cast. It is going to be a FREAKING RIOT. For more information and announcements regarding showtimes and tickets follow Jupiter Theater Company here.

That's all for now, everybody. Tune in next time to hear Abby say: Why Am I Bleeding? I have a Completely Non-Violent Role. FERNANDEZ!!!

Do you have experiences with the all-consuming whirlpool world of Theater? 
Leave a comment! 

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