My small province of Prince Edward Island is so much lighter these days. One can almost imagine it rising out of the frigid Atlantic as more and more islanders head south for much-needed winter breaks. Add to this the innumerable islanders who've made the trek west to work in the Alberta oil patch and it's surprising we don't take off like a helium balloon. Don't seem to be much of us left to shovel the driveways and keep the local iced mocha shop in business.
Those of us left are making the best of winter's hoary grasp. Those of you who have been following my blog know that I've added another big fat black checkmark to my bucket list. Last weekend's premiere of Laundry & Bourbon, as part of the Harbourfront Players' evening of one-act plays, was my leading-lady on stage debut! I shared that honour with my good friend Shelley Dorland-Tamtom, and we were joined on stage by veteran actor Virginia O'Brien. Magic happened under the lights that night, and I am soooo looking forward to doing it all again during this Sunday's matinee.
I admit that at dress rehearsal I had a moment when I kinda wanted to bolt. There were still a few lines all of us were reaching for, and I was nervous about acting in front of the dress rehearsal crowd - those being folks from the other plays, my guy Steve, and of course Jay, Andy and Greg, the Harbourfront crew! Nothing worse than acting for those you know…but when I took the stage to open our play for paid ticket holders, the experience was completely different. All of us gals gelled, the lines were there, the comedic timing was perfect, and the sad poignancy of my character, Elizabeth, was where I needed it to be. I admit I didn't like my frumpy sundress and hair in a ponytail, but I felt like Elizabeth, and that's what really mattered.
The next day I was a mess - irritable, sad, sorry. We didn't really celebrate the play - and my brand spanking new black bucket list checkmark - I had to keep my excitement all internal. In our household it was business as usual - editing on Monday in my home office, the usual run for an iced mocha in early afternoon, Pilates that evening. I felt like the world should be screaming "You did it! You were in a play! You were a leading lady in a play! Acting is awesome! Acting rocks!" Instead the world had fallen silent. I knew we'd be doing it all again, but the first rehearsal wasn't scheduled til the end of the week - this afternoon - so the magic just seemed…over.
Maybe it's just me but I like to celebrate these markers in my life. I find myself wondering how the Olympians are doing it - not just the winners, but those who got to experience such an incredible event - how do they come back to…normal? Last night I was in a pretty deep funk. I edited til about seven thirty then had a late dinner in front of Netflix. I've been watching Nashville, nothing deep, and wondering how I can get a job writing on some TV series like that (hell, even Steve could write THAT show). Heck, I oughtta be writing Drifters! At any rate, I was down and out last night. I don't want our little adventure on the stage to end. I don't know when - and if - an opportunity like this will come around for me again. Acting is a surreal experience. It's courageous, daring, terrifying, exhilarating, and a thousand other emotions all wrapped into one. Standing on the stage lost in your character feeling like you can hide your problems in someone else's life for a while? Hell, yeah! I get that! As Elizabeth, I can pour out HER emotions, HER angst at the fact that her husband is running around on her, that as a Vietnam War Vet - one who's been shot, nonetheless - he's in pain and she is powerless to help him. I can channel all of my own worries - when's the next client coming on board? Why can't I get back to Vancouver to see my kid anytime soon? Why aren't the books' sales snowballing like Bella Andre's? Why why why?
I LOVE being someone else, even if it's just on stage in a little ole one act play down here in little ole Summerside, P.E.I. (Guess that also explains why I like writing!). I'm already missing it.
One last note - I started a new short story this week. I'm hoping it will be accepted into the newest P.E.I. Writes Anthology. It's about a farmer whose life changes when a tired ex World War I soldier lands a barnstorming plane on the farmer's property. The themes are similar to my short story (also novel) A Certain Kind of Freedom - escaping the ties that bond us to the earth, to a place. I seem to write about those bonds a lot! Even Jessie, in Drifters, is a chronic runaway. Weird. I'm quite settled here in small-town Canada. But I do want to travel. These days it's mostly through my fantasy worlds created through acting and writing, but that's okay for the time being. You know something? I'm really happy I have those to resort to. Because I wonder where others go when they end up in their funks. When they are down and out. There is only so much Netflix Nashville one can escape to.
So this Sunday I ask you to think about us folks pouring our hearts and souls out on stage as part of Random Acts. Think about what you can do to check one more thing off your own bucket list. The post-bucket list bucket may feel a little empty afterwards, but in your heart you'll know you've done it. And then when the emotions even out again, you can look back with pride.
I think I'll celebrate this time. Not sure how exactly, and this ain't no Academy Award winning production, but for me it's been a great way to bypass the winter blues (apart from the longing afterwards!). Maybe I'll dance around the park and howl with the coyotes. OR maybe I'll go for a drive and sing at the top of my lungs to Wrecking Ball. Or to Daylight…or to my Vietnam era playlist...or maybe I'll sit down and get to work on that hockey film I'm planning to make, so I can feel awesome again!
As for today, I look forward to this afternoon's rehearsal and I await the magic that Shelley, Virginia and I will create this weekend for a live audience. I hope others will enjoy our play as much as we have loved creating and performing it.
Do you mind if I give you some homework? Grab a ticket to a community theatre production. Even if you're used to 'the big stuff', just break down and go see some local theatre. The folks on stage all have their own reasons for doing what they're doing, but I bet they have one thing in common - they're all loving it. And that enthusiasm is contagious. Example? Our audience was roaring at Thane, our top of the show emcee, before any plays even hit the stage! They were there for a good time, and they had it.
Isn't that what life is all about? Good times?
This winter I may not be going south, or to Vancouver or anywhere else exotic. Not really, anyway. But Sunday afternoon I will be in Texas on a hot, sultry 1970 summer day. I won't be saying a-bowt the way we do here - instead I'll be saying a-bat, like they do in Texas (or so I hear).
I will be hot, sweaty, and longing for a 1959 pink Thunderbird convertible to come roaring around the bend. I'll be drinking bourbon (um, flat coke) and I'll be folding heaps of laundry. But I'll be with my good friend and we'll be having a great time!
Go see a play - and celebrate local theatre in your community. And think of us Harbourfront Players here in little ole P.E.I.!
Til next time -