One Big Union

one big union.jpg

So excited to see this show today! Joe Hill was a labor activist and musician who was executed 100 years ago for a murder he may or may not have committed. This Plan-B Theatre original play contains Hill’s own songs, recently released to the public domain, and also highlights his work with Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, who visited him in jail here in Salt Lake, and went on to co-found the ACLU.

rebel-girl

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was the inspiration for this 1915 battle hymn.

Plan-B is the only theater in the United States that produces entire seasons of original works by local playwrights, with emphasis on socially conscious themes and issues. It’s owned by one of my dearest friends and his husband.Ā http://planbtheatre.org/

It’s a relevant stage experience, following a week that has seen boys at a local football game chanting, “Grab her by the p*ssy!” and a white van trolling Rose Park, a Salt Lake City neighborhood rich with immigrants, screaming, “Trump is President! Build the wall!”

Don’t mourn… ORGANIZE!
joe-hill

*****

It was amazing! Very emotional at times, as they were describing precisely what we’ve been living with this week and for the last 18 months.

I have to go to more shows at Plan-B! I’m so cheap. I always say, “Next time,” and next time never comes. If nothing else, I should be supporting my friends. The real reason, of course, is that theater transforms us! It makes us think, laugh. It gives us a break from everyday and all that that entails, but it can also light the fire of our own creativity. Above all, theater connects us. This was wonderful.organize

Interesting Conversation

My friend and I went to brunch Sunday (after failing to win lotto tix to Book of Mormon Musical), and an interesting conversation ensued. Or maybe not so interesting. Rather ordinary, really, but my mind is ablaze with a new idea.

The conversation began when this friend confessed his fear of dying, which I don’t share. (Fear of pain, most definitely.) I’m excited to see what’s there and be able to fly. šŸ™‚ I like it here so I want to stay as long as I can and take in the beauty, adventure and learning, but I’m so into perfect, pure loveĀ that Afterlife represents to me, I can’t wait to swim in it. I mean, fly.

As an Atheist, my friend is frightened of the Nothing after leaving our bodies. I said that, having considered that possibility, I’ve found myself still to be unafraid of death. Without consciousness, I won’t notice I’m not around anymore. What’s to regret? “But I can’t imagine it,” I went on to say. “Energy doesn’t end. E=mc2. It becomes mass and vice versa. Mass proves my existence as energy. I couldn’t end if I wanted to. I’ve been organized in some way around a fiery ball. I can’t stop being, with or without a body.”

“Yes,” he replied, “but energy doesn’t have to have consciousness when organized in other ways.” To him that’s terrifying. To me, it’s not. In fact, it’s quite exciting. It bolsters the idea that we’re all connected, to each other, the trees, the stars.

I hope I’m still sentient. If not, what’s to miss?

That got me to this: Manifestation (Law of Attraction, “The Secret,” if you must) … Do you have to have an after-life belief system in order to participate? The simple answer is no, of course, but synchronicity and intuition are so closely tied to my angels that I can’t imagine those gifts coming from nothing, existing purely as a byproduct of my resonance as a breathing thing. In fact, they feel like a very real hug from a crew of loving cheerleaders who celebrate every time I get the message.

I understand that the way I interpret my experience doesn’t apply to anyone but me. I like to say I’m Christian, because my orthodoxy bears my name. šŸ™‚ I don’t need anyone else to believe it, and it benefits me whether it’s real or imagined.Ā But… Interesting!

I hoped my friend could make peace with the finality of death and no longer be burdened by the worry of it in life, and added, “but I still can’t imagine it.”

Funny, ego.

Can it be ego alone that sees me as too important and vast for my consciousness to end? Well, yeah, it can! But if my ego can be wiped away in 80 yrs, then so can my ancestors, and I have one among my angels. I can’t be convinced that she’s a figment of my imagination, becauseĀ genealogical records prove her existence. She started all of this for me. I had no idea what was happening, except that I was on fire! (Burning in the Bosom, Mormons call it.) My angels are not winged warm fuzzies. Abigail Smith Abbott (b. 1806) introduced herself to me when I was ten. “Hello, Daughter. We’re here.”

I know they’re real. I’m willing to be honest, though. I believe they are. Huh. That made something very clear for me. That is definitively what differentiates me from the flock I left. Mormons have to know, and declare it. “I bear my testimony.” they say. I can’t.

Happily for me, I don’t care. I don’t need sureties in order to enjoy the rich relationship I have with my angels and a loving Universe, which very much responds to the energy and thoughts I choose. I expect to arrive in 40+ years at another between-life phase. I imagine a whole lot of, “Oh yeah! I can’t believe I forgot that! Oh wow, I learned exactly what I chose Christie for. I rocked that round! Next I’d like to learn…” But I don’t know, and I love it that way. “I bear my testimony that not knowing is true.”

I dance in the Question Mark!

(Oh, and I got a ticket to the show at the evening lotto. “I get everything I want!” Manifest!)B of M Capitol resizeeverything is energyThe laws of physics apply to Atheists, too! I can’t believe I had to think so hard to “allow” that, haha!

Adelaide

I am so angry! I’ve never had an audition like that. In failed auditions before this, I’ve been able to take responsibility and, though bitter, there is some comfort in that. But there is NOTHING I COULD HAVE DONE TO WORK WITH THE ARROGANT ASSHOLE THEY HIRED AS ACCOMPANIST!!!

I am so angry!!!

I gave him my music, clearly-marked in red ink, and led at the tempo I desired, as I spoke/sang it at the tempo I desired. He raced through.

“Much slower,” I requested.

“Right,” he lied. I took him at his word and trusted that he was just marking it.

I’d crossed out the melody, and showed him myself that all I wanted wasĀ a simple, rolling beat behind the “liberties I’m taking with the rhythm,” I said over and over and OVER. “I’m not singing it as written.” He insisted on the melody, as written. “But I’m taking liberties here,” I said again. “I’m playing with the melody and the timing.”

“That’s fine,” he assured dismissed me. And I took the stage. My moment to commune with the pianist was over.

He gave me ONE CHORD and broke into the fastest train-wreck he could engineer, playing exactly as he wished, exactly against my instructions. I fought for my tempo; he fought for his. HE STOPPED ME IN THE MIDDLE OF MY AUDITION!!!!!!!!

“Let’s get this how it goes,” he snapped.

[“It goes how I say it goes! It’s my audition!”]
“Thank you,” I said. “Please. Much slower.”

Naturally, it was as fast as before. He won. IĀ sped up, denied every characterization I had prepared to introduce myself to the panel, to give them the vision of Adelaide in me. And she is in me!

I asked for a torch song. He played so fast I had to SKIP A MEASURE to get back in time with him! It was the most unprofessional theatre experience I’ve ever had.

I’m seething. The arrogance of that man! I might be a volunteer, but he was PAID TO PLAY MY MUSIC THE WAY I PREPARED IT. I insulted his sensibilities, asking a glorified talent such as Himself to cut out his own bells and whistles and let me shine. Who was I? The person you were hired to accompany, that’s who! What I requested was very simple. I could play it. Therein lies the problem, methinks. It was beneath him.

He was the professional, but I paid for it.

I was so well-prepared this time. I had such delicious comedy juxtaposed against a languid rendering of a “Cry Me A River,” and I was so ready. There would be no beating myself up afterwards for not bringing all the preparation I could to the only role that’s ever mattered to me. It’s no wonder they couldn’t see Adelaide in what I brought to the stage yesterday. What was supposed to fill a full minute took less than 30 seconds. I suppose there’s some consolation in the brevity of my humiliation.

I’m furious, and still mystified as to why they asked for a 60s jazz standard for a famously 40s musical. I shouldĀ have gone with the other numberĀ I keep in my pocket.Ā It suits the show. I sing it as written, and might have avoided making myself an enemy unto God Gary, Piano Purveyor of Cooperation or Catastrophe.

*****

You know what? I’m taken back right now, to last weekend and the honor I had to study under Mabiba Baegne, who communicated so well how one respects another. Another individual, another culture, any Other.

How should I have responded? What could I have done?

At Merveilles Utah, many were inclined to do the moves as we knew them. We wanted to match theĀ rhythms moreĀ closelyĀ to ourĀ interpretation. We wanted our lessons Westernized. Mabiba stopped us every time, without the slightest denigration but with unapologetic commitment to her own integrity.

“Listen,” she said without words. “Watch,” she spoke without breath.

I felt honored to honor her by doing what she showed me, as nearly as I could. I felt humbled and grateful – joyful! – to try what I didn’t initially want to do. I appreciate more than ever people who see beyond themselves, and pray that I will always remember this feeling when my own egoĀ comes out to play.

*****

Ha. Know what Mabiba said about jerks? “There will always be people who get in your way. You drink; you pee. They’re in the dirt, behind you.” Go on with your life.

He’s yesterday’s waste. Being robbed a real chance at Adelaide is today’s sorrow, still. I think I’ll have a glass of water. Seems the river hasn’t reached its bank.

*****

Amazing. Journaling works! Or Mabiba’s advice really made a difference. You know how that is: People say things and they sound inspiring until you have to apply them. I wrote thatĀ Sunday morning, then went to brunch with my best friend who’s visiting from Texas. We never spoke of my anger or upset, though she knew I’d cried and didn’t get a call-back. We visited with her sisters and parted company. And I was fine.

I tried my hardest to work with someone unwilling to work with me. I treated him with the dignity I deserve. I feel sad that I didn’t get a chance, but I feel good. I’m a decent, talented person. His aggression and rudeness have no lasting effect on me.

I’m hopeful again. The character breakdown for Adelaide is “35 – 45 years, strong comedic role.” I don’t look my age. šŸ˜‰ I have 10 years yet to get that part somewhere. And I will.

Soli for Solstice!

solstice 2

We started a new session today. 2 new things happened. First, I could not get my part. I don’t prefer to play any of the 3 drums in dunun. I’m not very good at it and I’d rather do djembe, but, struggle though I may, I always eventually get it. Not today. We ended the segment before I ever found my “on” switch, you know? That’s a little frustrating. It’s very frustrating, actually, because the rhythm wasn’t that hard! It was simple, conceptually, but I just couldn’t put the 2 hands together. Yet. I will. So, there’s that. No biggie.

Next, oh man! I rolled for the first time today. Ha! Quinn taught us an arrangement with rolls. That was intimidating! I got it, but not consistently. It’s very exciting to imagine how far he’s gonna push me this time. Wow!

No longer do we brush-up on mechanics and technique. We warm up with a rhythm we already know, and jump straight into something unfamiliar. Quinn called today’s accompaniment “the building blocks of solo work.” What?! No way! I don’t see myself ever tearing it up freestyle with a steady chorus backing me up – except in musical theatre, hehe. Maybe I should. Maybe I should start to imagine myself as a bad-ass drummer.

What an awesome class. It pays me back again and again and again. I love djembe!

Speaking of theatre, today this quiet girl teased me (a great drummer with killer rhythm). It doesn’t take long for me to let loose, and I’m used to these people now. I have no idea what I said, but she laughed and laughed. “That was so dramatic!”

Oh. That.

I know I’m theatrical, but every once in awhile it surprises even me how over-the-top I must be. I don’t think I’m that animated, verbose, outrageous, but… people do. šŸ™‚

I love these people. I love djembe!
_____

Soli is Malinke, from Guinea, played for male initiation.
solstice

9 to 5, The Musical

Remember last year when I wanted to play a dancing secretary, then got cast in a completely non-dancing supporting lead? Well, now I’m a dancing secretary! I just accepted a position in “9 – 5, The Musical.” I’m in the ensemble, which sings every number but 4, and I get to dance to that glorious 80s anthem! What could be more fun and funky? I may not work 9 – 5, but I’ll be in a musical about it!

It was a real honor, because I didn’t even audition. Maurie, who directed me last year in How To Succeed, called and invited me personally. It’s such a compliment to have your work ethic recognized. I feel like I earned it, and that’s not something I could have said in my twenties. I worked hard, but was unable to enjoy it and made myself (and others) miserable. Falling short in my performance made me endlessly unsatisfied. Not anymore! Don’t think for a moment that there aren’t things I wish I’d done with Hedy LaRue – I’m still thinking about her a year later – but I’m happy with my performance. I like the Hedy that I created. I’m proud of myself, and I’m so excited!

Already, I’m thinking of external things I want to do to distinguish my ensemble character from my small speaking role. For one thing, I need a wig. The only redhead in the show won’t blend. And I’m changing bras, haha! For regular stage life I have an industrial, padded costume bra, looks great from stage and I don’t appear… inverted, if not the promised C on the tag. I’m wearing a regular, padding-free brassiere to play Hart’s wife (Dabney Coleman, you know, the worm). What better way to juxtapose his lust for Doralee? (Our Dolly Parton character is equally busty, bam! and gorgeous.) From there, I immediately saw Missy as this fussy mother-type he goes home to every night, while Doralee is the bombshell he spends his days and dreams with. I’m going to spit-clean his face in our scene together!

I love the creative process! Give me any part, and I immediately begin sculpting her, feeling her, envisioning her, becoming her. I haven’t even seen the script! I love theatre. There’s something about the stage that’s different from all of my other creative pursuits.

I’m so excited for this show! It wasn’t on my radar at all, and it feels like a gift.

______

Here’s how Missy and Frank ended up:mr and mrs franklin hart jr
In the program, I was described as “the bubble-headed wife of Franklin Hart, Jr.” I’m starting to notice a trend. Do I think I’m smart, but everyone else sees a ding dong?

War Horse

war horseAn acquaintance is in the National Touring Company of War Horse and got me a ticket the week they were in Salt Lake. Last week, my birthday. It was a great present. I still can hardly speak about the impact this production had on me. It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. Just amazing! It’s truly unbelievable what they accomplished on that stage. I’m still thinking about what I saw and felt.

Since I am yet monosyllabic about the fact that puppets were breathing, I will talk about a life-altering moment I had regarding munitions. In one scene, the English cavalry gallops into enemy lines and is mowed down by machine gun fire. In WWI this was new technology! I’d never thought of that. It never once occurred to me what it meant the day the military advanced that way and, worse, the day it was introduced in battle. Horses and men with swords charged a fortified wall of automatic weaponry! There was a moment that I was completely transported from the present day. “Oh my god, the world just changed.” Right before my eyes.

Not Bad

Not bad at all!

Marko and I pulled into Millcreek Bar and Grill, and I freaked out. “Why is it packed on a Thursday night?!”

It’s strange how the nerves never lessen.

Thankfully, by the time I sang I’d had two beers and the main dinner crowd had gone home. The remainder was a room full of mainly gratis musicians and their friends, and they beamed at me. What a wonderful place to push through fear. This is the best audition practice I could have hoped for! (March 22nd, “Children of Eden”… Wish me luck!)

Speaking of musical theatre, a friend from “How to Succeed” came to see me! I had posted on Facebook, of course, mostly just to congratulate myself on being brave and awesome, and Keith, who played Biggley in the other cast, showed up! Biggley was my “romantic” (wealthy) lead. (Hedy was a gold-digger with a heart of gold. šŸ™‚ ) Keith and I performed together twice, my opening night and his closing. I was touched beyond words. I didn’t expect (or really even want) anyone to show up (yet), and I certainly wouldn’t have expected someone I only met in a show months and months ago. How kind!

It was a great night. I was calm up there! I remember thinking at one point, “Wow, my arms aren’t giving me any fits at all.” Haha! I seemed self-assured and very comfortable. My voice quivered a time or two and I hit one sour note, but it was a quick one and disappeared nicely behind the ending crescendo, which we nailed before bursting out laughing to great applause.

I have walked into something rare, indeed.

See you next week!