Alright. Now what? [Nerd in Transition]
You may have noticed that Nerd in Transition has been missing the last couple weeks. There are two reasons for this, both entirely my fault thereby within my control. 1. Though this blogumn uses the word transition in the title, when I get into a comfy routine I am very slow to change, so when my deadline was pushed up to 6pm the Sunday before publishing from 10pm the night before, I dragged may feet. 2. I have been extra busy working on a theatrical production of ‘Night Mother in the capacity of actor AND producer. This is the first time I have undertaken producing, so this is a big deal to me and today the first bomb dropped.
After spending the past year removing myself from the world of roller derby by immersing myself in the world of struggling Hollywood actor I came to a decision this past December. In an effort to kick start both my career and lost passion for acting I would produce and star in a production of ‘Night Mother. In case you aren’t familiar with what happens in this 90 minute two woman play here’S a basic description: It’s a mother/daughter pair and within the first 10 pages the grown daughter tells her aging mother that she is going to commit suicide at the end of the evening. And away we go!
It’s a great play, won a Pulitzer Prize in ‘82. I was first introduced to it ten years ago and have been waiting for the right time to perform in it — well I feel the time is now. With no production in sight and not wanting to risk losing it on an audition I decided to play big girl and produce my own version of the play. It’s about time I did something like this. Not only can I invite agents, casting directors and so forth to see me perform, but it is very big picture for me. Talk about a transition move.
I contacted a friend I met when I became a company member of Unknown Theatre here in LA, Caprice, and asked if she wanted to direct the show. We’ve been wanting to work together since we first met and there was no other person I considered asking, I knew she would be perfect. Thankfully she said yes and we began talking about casting. The first woman she brought up to play my Mother was a lady named Barbara, trusting her judgement I said give her a call. Barbara said yes and we agreed to meet for our first read through in January. Starting right after that first meeting we began having rehearsal one day each weekend for three hours.
While it was great to really dig into the play with those intimate three hour workshop sessions, getting into my new position as producer was an intimidating task. I contacted friends that focus mostly on theatrical production and asked for advice. What I received was priceless! From typewritten, step-by-step instructions, to in-depth email answers to my every question the tutelage has led my way.
In no way has this been some rosy little path. I’ve been floundering along actually. I have dragged my feet on important issues — hell until I hired a life coach I was dragging my feet on the entire event. Once I created my own checklist and began working on it, the project became real and so very important. People are used to me making loud proclamations with no follow through. Many a project has begun with great fanfare just to slowly and silently slip away down the path of good intentions. This time, dammit, I was going to do it! I was going to produce and star in this fucking play!
I began making my way down the checklist. By this time it was already March and my production dates were set for June 17-25. That doesn’t leave much time to get a play together from scratch. Thankfully I had a multi-skilled director who not only had great connections regarding free rehearsal space, but who also happens to be a professional graphic designer; free postcard and web design taken care of. Being a creative type, mathematics have never been my strong point. Money is particularly hard, it’s just not something I think about much. Yet a show needs stuff and a place to put that stuff where people can come sit and look at other people using said stuff. Not having won the lottery just yet I was going to have to raise some funds. This time I tapped my professional fundraising sister’s shoulder. At the end of our first phone call I had orders to craft a first draft of the fundraising letter she would edit for me, as well as directions on what to do next.
What I should say next is that I went around to a bunch of different theaters, checking sizes, availability and rental prices, but what I did was set my eyes on one location and went after it with single-eyed focus. Wanting only to put this production up in downtown I went to ArtShare LA after hearing that they had the cheapest rental fees. I also heard that they booked up fast and that I would be lucky to get the dates I wanted. By now it was early April. Early April and the clock was ticking. Marti became my earth mother goddess pulling strings left and right to get me the space for not only the dates I wanted, but also at a price so low I almost choked when she said it. In fact I had to have her repeat it, a couple times.
With the clock ticking down it seemed like things were really coming together. Yet there was one big thing that I had been avoiding, fundraising. Something was holding me back from really getting that going. As I was making all these deals and attending weekly rehearsals I was doing nothing to bring in money. While I may not think about money much, money became all I could think about. Near the end of April I began having difficulty sleeping. Each time I woke to stare at the ceiling, it was fundraising and failure going through my mind.
On Thursday April 29, the final postcard design was emailed to me, I did not send it to the printer. I just sat on it, waiting for final word from Artshare that we absolutely had the space. With little left in my personal account there was no way I was going to spend money on a design with a 95% yes/maybe still hanging in the air. The following Sunday I headed to Long Beach for our first May rehearsal. When I arrived I stopped at the 7-11 for a cold drink before heading in, I ran into my co-star, Barbara. We said hello, but something seemed off, she was reserved and a bit cold. I paid for my two toned slurpee and headed out.
Up in the directors apartment, our temporary rehearsal space, we chatted for a bit before Barbara arrived. Though pleasant I could tell that there was something off. Actors can be moody creatures, so I let it go at that. We sat down and started to chat, relaxing from the hot morning, when Barbara took hold of the conversation. As she began talking I picked up my phone to make sure the volume was off and noticed an email alert. Thinking it would be nothing I clicked it for a quick look only to find Marti had responded to my most recent email.
Interrupting Barbara I made the fantastic announcement that finally 100% the space was ours! This brought a big smile to my face and a shout of joy from Caprice, yet nothing more than a slight grin from Barbara. After a brief discussion she once again took the floor and made an announcement of her own.
She was leaving the show.
A month and a half till we open and we’re broke with only one actress. It was so poetically ironic that I had to laugh. Then I cried a little saying I understood her reasoning, she hadn’t factored in the $4+ cost of driving to Long Beach and LA from Irving until recently. The expense will kill her once nightly rehearsals begin. She mentioned something else about her health, but really it’s the price of gas.
So here I sit on the 1st of May having told everybody in my personal and professional life that I have a show opening on June 17. There is a theatre holding a space for me. Postcards are designed and ready for printing. An eager set designer wants to talk about construction plans. The final draft of my fundraiser letter sits in my gmail mailbox. Yet I have less than $100 and only one actress for a two woman show.
Alright. Now what?
featured image credit: ? Melly Kay ?