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Night Mother – Getting What I Need [Nerd in Transition]

Last weekend, Night Mother opened, bringing seven months of work to light. This weekend those seven months came to a quiet end with the closing of the show. It was a great experience, invaluable lessons learned and all that business. While it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, it was exactly what I needed. The family came in from Michigan, in fact I saw old familiar faces that had been missing for too long. And for the first time since I graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC, 2001, I have actually ACTED. Imagine that.

For years now I have been telling people, “No really. I CAN act!” But I haven’t been given a chance to really display the talent I continue to profess I have. So I got the idea to produce my own play. Why the hell not? I grew up doing mostly small theatre, I figured it couldn’t be that difficult to pull off a little show here. So I picked a two woman piece I have wanted to perform in since I first worked on it over 10 years ago, Night Mother, and off I went. A terribly unorganized often self destructive chick with a dream, to produce and star in a play. That’s it.

Over the past seven months I have been tested in ways I certainly didn’t expect and still more ways I did. From losing my original co-star, to the director losing her home and our constant search for free rehearsal space I was pushed. Rehearsals became a wonderful escape from the building tensions in and around the show. My new found patience was tested time and again when it became clear that my hand picked director freaked out over all things great and small. I would like to say that I was successful at always being kind and calm with her, but my hair is still red and I am still named after Celtic warrior queens. Still the experience of working with her was like holding a mirror up to my own behavior, both good and bad.

Early on in the process I spread the word to friends and on Facebook that I was producing my own show. It was a decisive step in the battle of follow-through that I fight with all things I take on. I haven’t done much in my adult life, aside from playing roller derby, and that’s been such a career boon. After sitting on top of a mountain and walking dogs for a year I decided that it was time to pull up my big girl pants and start something then, OMG, finish it! So I continued to spread Night Mother updates across the interwebs and I talked about it with everybody who would listen. I told myself that my emerging reputation depended on this simple completion of this show. I also rightfully told myself that another actor, director and stage manager were expecting me to take care of them, so that is what I did. The self satisfaction of a job completed has been warming my belly and forcing a smile across my face for two days now.

About a month before opening, fear was growing in the pit of my stomach that the actor playing my mother was not going to be able to get off book, ever. That fear grew daily and I was tempted to seek out an understudy. I held off and we pushed forward. Two weeks from opening night I was hardly sleeping and my face was a display of angry worried red welts better known as zits. She was never going to put the book down. We held rehearsals that were nothing but line runs, they were long painful 3 -4 hour marathons. I broke down in tears during tech week. Finally I made the decision in the dark of the night that each performance would be free. The show must go on, but I wasn’t going to charge for an elaborate stage reading. She performed each night with her script in her hands. I let go, carried forward and trusted the work we had done to shine through.

Working on the business side of a show was totally new for me. I cannot tell you how powerful I feel after having made simple deals for set and space rentals. For far too long I have sat back and let other people do all the dirty behind the scenes work for me. Wheeling and dealing felt good, seeing it come to life felt better, shaking peoples hands with a genuine smile at the end felt like the world opening.

I was disappointed by the small audience numbers. This was my return to stage and I was hoping to share that with a greater number of friends and industry contacts. Yet, the fact that people came at all has been uplifting. Plus after sleeping on it I decided that I am not angry at anybody for missing the show. This project was about me getting going. It was a beginning. There will be many more shows in the future. Creativity is buzzing through me in a frantic energy while determination burns in my eyes. Everything, all my adventures and experiences are coming together for the next stage and I’m so fucking ready!

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featured image credit: Melly Kay