I just helped out with “The Sound of Music” in Sonoma. I was asked to come back to play Maria (a part I did several times in high school), help direct and encourage the best out of about 100 kids.
I was reluctant at first because I didn’t want to act. I hated acting. I hated how vulnerable I felt and how limited I am in my own body and expression. But I said, “yes” and decided to hang with some kids. Because I love kids. They’re the best kind of humans.
After agreeing, I landed an awesome illustration job in Mountain view and had to move. The trek to Sonoma took roughly 2.5 hours each way, and by tech week I was barely holding on. *I’ve never taken so many naps in my life.* But the time spent with the kids was all worth it, and the new friends I made, too.
I now have memories of staying at one of the Louisa’s houses, and eating bagels and avocado with her Dad, talking about doing what you love with your life. I also have memories of eating delicious salads with my older sister whom I was so glad to have with me throughout tech week- who cared for me emotionally and made me laugh. And those quiet moments with one of the teens, when I could tell they were nervous, self conscious, and needed some encouragement because they were talented, and they were beautiful and kind to each other. I tried to express to them all of these things, and to let them know that they were kicking butt.
I realized the best part about being on stage, actually, is being vulnerable, and my resistance to acting was rooted in the same self conscious energy the teenagers were feeling. This time I didn’t have that feeling. I let the character of Maria, so pure and excited for life, pulse through me and flow out into each performance. In all honesty I had fun. The music in that play is delightful to sing, and every moment I was on stage with the children was a complete and utter adventure- right down to the Ethel Merman style singing of the little Gretel, to the sly punches the Marta gave to the Kurt that the audience could definitely see. That’s right- you can’t hid anything on stage. I went on a few times with my costume unzipped on the side and under clothes spilling out (thank God for tights, right?).
I thought I would never go on stage again. I thought I was through, but I am me, and there are reasons I did the things I did growing up. I’m taking some time to revisit them and enjoy them once again. I don’t know if I’ll intentionally take a part again or ever audition, but I’m open. Always.