Two of the former sort are at the forefront of my mind this summer:
*Audition whenever the opportunity arises. Enjoy being cast, no matter the role.
*Encourage others and enjoy their success as if it were my own.
(That latter sounds a bit like living vicariously through my friends, but since I've been doing that for ages anyway, might as well call it what it is.)
Summer usually brings with it a musical production. Last year, Cinderella; this year, Bye, Bye, Birdie. Or not. With the cancellation of the summer musical came the realization that it might be months before another performance opportunity came along. Oglebay Institute's Parcel Players is intended for high school and college-aged performers. Brooke Hills is much too far away. There I was, at an impasse of sorts, until Tim Thompson encouraged me to chat with the three Parcel Players directors and offer myself as a performer/stage manager/assistant/etc. should they have need of me. So I read two audition pieces and found myself (as you may have read here) spending the summer with MB Thompson and William Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Let's get this part over with quickly: I'm "Amiens" - a lord waiting on the banished Duke Senior in the Forest of Arden. I have three scenes and one line, and mostly I follow Duke Senior around like a little puppy dog and listen to Jaques et al. wax poetical.
The first week of rehearsals gave me the opportunity to watch these young actors, many of whom I'd not met before, work through the unfamiliar language and begin to bring it to life. It's a remarkable experience to see growth happen right before your very eyes, bearing witness to the possibilities afforded by the simple spending of time. I cherish these hours. They remind me of how powerful theatre can be - to showcase the strength and versatility and humor and so many more qualities brought to the table by a cast. When the commitment is made to step into a role, there is no turning back. There is only the role and the living in it and in the world of the play.
For the last week and a half, I've gotten to stand in for Rosalind, who was on vacation. The real Rosalind is gorgeous and charming and talented and absolutely perfect for the part. (She returned to rehearsal last night and made her way through Acts I & II as if she'd never been gone.) I loved being Rosalind, not least because she's got these great scenes with Orlando and also memorable lines like "Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love". It was a bit of a reality check to go back to being only Amiens. I say "only" not because Amiens is a minor role (although it is) but because my hours at rehearsal were all taken up with being other people, too.
There was constant shifting of perspectives: from Adam, the elderly servant to young Orlando, to Rosalind, melancholy and mooning over her father's banishment and later over her love for Orlando, to Amiens, cheerful servant to the banished Duke, frolicking about in the forest. Being present in each of those roles presented a unique challenge each night, a challenge I relished as an actor.
From here on in, though, I have the great privilege of watching the real Rosalind live in her character. I get to cheer Oliver on as he pitches his tantrum just a little bit louder each night and wraps his mind around the unfamiliar language and lets it become less and less foreign the more he speaks it. Each rehearsal brings moments of clarity and leaps of growth, drawing the show ever tighter and making the world more real - even as it becomes miles more absurd with every musical number.
Now, I'm practicing being present, both in my role and in myself, living in those realities and enjoying a life that is full, yes, of heightened absurdity but also of light and laughter and love.