Monday, June 22, 2009

Cold feet and bat ears

The act of watching a play strikes fear into my heart. Only at first. I begin by worrying that one of the cast members won't arrive for this particular show, a little like imaging worst-case-scenario Kate Blanchett's run in with a motor vehicle in Benjamin Button, and then discovering the understudy maybe didn't expect that today would be the day and left her only pair of run-free stockings at home. What then?

What if the actors recognize that I just reached down to temporarily discard of my concession stand snack wrapper and mistook it for fidgeting in the middle of Act III? What if that guy in the audience laughed at the wrong time (say, during a key character death, a la Hamlet) and I feel embarrassed for him?

But the overarching freak out has to do with all the projections I'm placing on the actors in regards to their perseverance and hopes/dreams/feelings. I'm all wrapped up on the stage fright anxiety I never really shook from early high school, which consisted of sitting in Spanish class with my brand-spanking new slobber-enhancing retainers, reciting my conjugates. I also contemplate the overall spirit of the people--with a huge range of experiences--who have committed to getting on stage to recite the exact same two hour play for a few months for a few shows a day, possibly many shows a week. I'm not an actor and I'm not a big character developer when I write (poetry/prose dividing line?), so I know little about the kind of dedication this particular task takes. I'm just sitting there, waiting for the lights to dim, biting my nails over the potential cold feet happening backstage. This is me transferring my own flight (not fight) instinct that threatens to take hold of me re: being an artist/"artist" (cough, cough).

I recognized these emotions and ended up putting all of the above labels on what I was feeling yesterday, at Batboy: The Musical at the Village Players theater in Oak Park. This is not a true/objective reflection of the experience--no one was running off stage or fainting or renouncing acting for a career in investment banking. I'll just always have this lingering feeling anyone, while outwardly committed to their art form, could unpredictably beat feet at any moment.

In the show's program, a small blurb announced Obama's funding just pumped into the NEA grant-giving wing, providing a jolt to its dying little moneybag. This funding, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, gives $50million over two years. Half of this is expected to go to each state's arts councils for individual grants and the other half to, I suppose, art-related programming in general. Sigh. Let's see for one year, assuming all states are created equal, that's $25m / 50 states =$500,000 per state / 2 = $250,000 for a whole state's fund for individual artists' awards. I think the little blurb in the program was worried. And the world turns...

Next post: a exposition on my moral and "spiritual" commitment to art sans talk of money in any way, shape or form. I'm starting to feel a little grimy framing everything in relationship to money or the lack thereof so often.


Kelly Kathleen Ferguson said...

Honey! If I'd known I would've been more attune to your needs at the Tennessee Williams Fest.

Laurie W. said...

I love plays, they are great. I am just temporarily rendered paralyzed pre-start time.