Begin Again

Sorry to make you blink there.

Yeah, I changed the format of the blog. Change is sometimes brought on by necessity, and in this case, I needed not to squint anymore. Hence the font size change.

Change is sometimes brought on by a desire to break away from the old, and in this case, the old format of the blog was looking more and more pinched – almost constipated. Hence the floatier, less boxed-in look.

And change is sometimes brought on by envy. I made some new friends at the writers’ conference, and a couple of them blog, and they use Blogger as their host, too, and their blogs were PRETTIER than mine. Damn it! I did a little investigating this morning and found out that my blog didn’t have to look so staid and formal, and a few clicks later, behold: a fresh new look.

Change by choice is always fun. Change by necessity, not so much. If you’ve been tracking this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m a stage actress by profession, and one of the hardest things for those not in the business to understand is that we show folk spend all our time starting over. Those of us who are fortunate enough to land a long-running show (be it theatrical or otherwise) get a little more settled in, but for most of us, it seems that we no sooner get comfortable with a production than it closes and it’s time to move on. Yes, we might work at that theatre again, or with that director, that designer, that stage manager, those crew people or those actors again, but never in that particular set of circumstances. At the end of a run, you drop it all and you move on to the next project.

As with any new venture, there’s a certain amount of trepidation as the first day of rehearsal draws near, which is why so many of us refer to it as The First Day of School. We have our version of school supplies: fresh new scripts and our pencils and pens and highlighters. We have our version of teachers: the director, the stage manager, the designers (and if it’s a musical, the music director and the choreographer). We have our version of hall monitors: company managers, production assistants, technicians, crew members, accompanists and other musicians. We even have our version of the school’s administration in the form of theatre management (the PTA arrives later, when the audience comes into play).

And yes, we also have our version of classmates, in the form of fellow cast members. Some of them you may have worked with before (which can be either good or bad). Some of them you may know by reputation (which again, can be either good or bad). And some of them will be complete strangers. So the first week of rehearsal is spent not only learning from all the teachers and hall monitors and school administration, it’s also getting-to-know-your-classmates time. You figure out who sits where, who’s going to be the class brain or the class president or the class clown. You find out who’s going to be your best bud and who you might have to watch out for on the playground.

My First Day of School is tomorrow, when rehearsals for The Music Man at Arena Stage begin. I haven’t worked at Arena in over ten years, and the place has changed a lot since then – so much that I’m taking a tour after rehearsal, just to get acclimated. I know the show well; I played Zaneeta Shinn in a community theatre production when I was 16 years old, and shows you learn when you’re that young have a tendency to stick with you. This time around I’ll be playing Mrs. Paroo, so that’ll be fun.

Some of the company I know already: I’ve worked with several of them, and am good friends with a few. (It’s not like when I was a kid, an army brat always moving to a new place and arriving at the first day of school not knowing a soul.) I’ve got my pen and pencil and highlighter, so I’m ready. And I’m not a kid anymore, not by a long shot.

But it’s still a new start, a new beginning. New faces, new names to memorize, new things to learn. There’s still that fluttery First Day of School feeling, still the little mantra that every New Kid recites to herself:

Hope it’s fun.
Hope they’re nice.
Hope I can learn it.
Hope they like me.

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2 comments

  1. Alice

    So lucky to learn about the theater through you. And so reassuring to hear that the nervousness that lives beside excitement are universal.

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