This is a follow-up to my most recent series, “Lessons in Drama,” in which I dutifully recount ways to think about and deal with drama whilst avoiding the urge to slap people in the face. THE FACE.
In case you missed them, go do yourself a favor…
Part 1: Don’t Discrimin-hate
Part 2: Better, Not Bitter
Part 3: Five Reasons It’s Not You
Part 4: It Never Ends (and how to deal)
If that advice wasn’t satisfying, I’m going to finish off with a list of painfully true performing stories to drive the point home (as promised). Consider yourself epilogue-d…
1. I didn’t get a lead role until I was 28 years old.
2. The first two shows I ever auditioned for were Oliver and The Music Man. I was 8 and 9, respectively. Did not make it in.
3. In high school, it was tradition for the directors to come up with all these individualized awards for each cast member and deliver them at the cast party. It was a sort of kitschy ritual, and the awards were usually based off of the real-life rehearsal and performance shenanigans (the “you had to have been there” sort of goings-on). The poor souls who didn’t do enough to stand out would end up with a “super trooper” award for being good. I got the trooper badge two years in a row. My senior year, I was finally recognized for my bit role as a stripper in Singin’ in the Rain. My fame as a stripper was short-lived.
4. I was confident that my high-school drama director had no idea I existed until the last month of high school. She passed me in the hallway without a glance, then stopped and turned to tell me what an outstanding job I was doing in the show. The Me from ten years ago died of happiness; the Me today would deliver a sassy hair-flip and saunter off with an over-confident, facetious “I know…”
5. Performing never came naturally. I always had to work at it. It takes every fiber of my being not to writhe with jealousy at the people who don’t have to work as hard. Unfortunately, there’s no check-box on audition forms that says “did you work really hard for this role?” So I take comfort in the fact that I am better (than I used to be, not than other people) for this.
6. One of my friends just auditioned for a show. She was a shoo-in for the lead, but it went to a weaker singer / actress who had “put in her time” in the chorus. So my friend respectfully turned down a chorus role for a myriad of reasons, but also to show them what’s what. That’s self-respect.
7. I have debilitating performance anxiety, deeply rooted from a long history of attempting to please people and falsely associating my personhood with my abilities. Until I was 24 years old, I don’t think I actually ever gave a performance that lived up to my true potential.
8. …when I finally did, it was my first performance on beta-blockers. I was the understudy for this piece, for which I was ridiculously well-suited:
P.S. You haven’t lived until you’ve reached 4:05…
8. Almost none of the kids who got lead roles when I was in high school continued on as professional musicians.
I’m sane and healthy, I promise. I am a self-actualized adult.
::repeats to self, calmly strokes cat on lap in evil-genius manner::