I just ran across these impressions I jotted to myself after surviving my stint as a “virgin” actor in the last 14/48. It seems appropriate to post them, with the Kamikaze artists draw less than 10 hours away.
The terror hit me like a fever about a half hour before the first show’s curtain. The day went by in a punishing blur: a vivid dream in which one is never really sure how much time is going by until suddenly someone is saying “We tech in 20 minutes.” And then someone else is saying, “Let’s break for dinner.” And then someone else is saying, “Places for Show One, people, places.”
“Thank you, places.”
I was in the second of seven ten-minute plays. I stood in the house-right vom looking up and out onto the stage, half-watching and listening to the first play, a funny piece about swinger birds by Doug Willott called "Duck/Penguin". I couldn’t really concentrate on the piece, since I was undergoing a vast existential amazement: confounded and astounded that somehow the individual circumstances of my life had brought me here to this deeply horrifyingly moment. Why was I here? Who does this to themselves? It’s one thing to be an asshole, but only a stupid asshole plots his own very public humiliation.
It was an oddly uplifted dismay. Nothing depressed or depressive about it.
And then the lights were changing and the band was playing and I was going on. As I noted in my earlier essay, as an actor, once you’re on you’re on. The terror doesn’t disappear, but it is forced by the demands of actual performance to sit in the back seat and shut the fuck up. There’s nothing you can do when you’re sliding down the mountain except make your goddamned best effort to steer and maybe hope to outrun the avalanche.
And then I was marching offstage. And then I was done. For a couple hours at least. I still had the second show, which now, miraculously, I wasn’t dreading at all.
By the first show of the second day the process had actually become fun, though terror was still sitting there in the back seat, sitting on her hands.