Things are almost never how you plan them to be.
Apparently, until the day I was born my name was selected to be 'Emma'. A great name. My great-aunt's name, in fact. My sister, Anne - had been named after my great-grandmother; my sister, Lisa - named after my aunt. And then, on the day I arrived - for a reason still unknown - when the pen was hanging over the line for my name, Mom said, "Dawn."
No 'Dawn' in the family, no movie or music star (that Mom was aware of), not even a memorable waitress from years ago... My name, a huge part of my identity, just happened in the moment. Despite all planning, tradition and intent, the first time someone asked my name - it just came out instantly and naturally.
Opening night is something like that. Lines diligently written and memorized; places taped down, audio cued - and then there you are on stage in the moment and something new and unexpected always happens. Always.
This may be more pronounced in a solo show because - depending on one's process - the performer has been in a very quiet, intimate room until that curtain opens. These lines have been said before mirrors, a director, and maybe one's cat... So when the crowd gasps or laughs or sits in silence; the reactions echo like a fog horn.
AND THIS IS THE HARD PART:
I have been wrestling for days with how to talk about the shows in the Fringe. I’m not a critic - I’m not being asked to critique - and among the things I dislike most, is being forced to make declarative statements about other peoples’ art.
I’m an actor in town, and I have a show in the fringe which means what I’m doing here is saturated with judgement and stakes and layers and blah.
So disclaimer time: Who gives a shit what I think. If something I write here pisses you off, or strikes you as bitchy or unfair... You may be right. I suggest you make a poo-face and think (or say, or write) disparaging things about me and then be done.
Okay, here we go:
Expiration Date was great. Full and interesting and well-performed...
But here was the crazy, opening night, live-performance, who-knows-whats-going-on, art-meet-life thing that happened:
The show is essentially about the reactions and observations surrounding a terminal diagnosis to a young woman. Candy Simmons conceived, wrote and performed. We’re with the character she plays, Lucy, from her initial diagnosis, through an MRI, and to awkward conversations about end of life.
The overall theme of the play is having an illness, trying to cover it up, coming to terms with it, and finally acceptance.
And the play told the story well, but the band-aid told it better.
See, about ten minutes into the show, I realized that the actress had a large clear band-aid on her chin. It was initially pretty invisible but the sweat and lights began to effect it and eventually (sorry, Candy!) it was all I could look at.
A big band-aid covering most of her chin. Her CHIN! She wore the many characters she played so well but that damn band-aid was on all of their CHINS!
But then I thought... this is perfect.
Because as her character’s thin layer of protection and concealment was coming loose - so was this thing on her face.
And I thought, what is really under there? A zit? Stitches? Maybe she had something removed or... I mean maybe this play is really super autobiographical (I didn’t do much research) and she’s... Is she super sick?!? A zit or cancer - the pendulum swing most of us over-30 deal with when faced with a medical mystery.
And in the final moments of the play, the character of Lucy, in a triumphant sweep, puts on a special yellow dress... and when it went on, the band-aid finally came completely off.
As someone close to the process of creating and being in solo shows, this awesome thing happened next:
Both Candy and Lucy rolled the bandaid up in their fingers. The show went on - you have ONLY 60 minutes for Christ’s sake, no time to wallow in irony - but she was laid bare. Both of them, at last.
...and DONE! Hopped on my bike and got to the next show - Katharina Von Bora at the Theater Garage. I don’t want to talk about that show.
And I don’t have to.
I didn’t want to see any more shows after it was done either - so I didn’t.
I spent the rest of the night at The Crooked Pint watching skate-boarding competitions on a giant screen and then I ate one of those Cookie Lucy things... Mercy.
Didn’t see that one coming either.
--- SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION---
Please, if you're able, come and see my show:
They Called Her Captain @ The Playwrights' Center.
We open tomorrow at 1PM. Gasp. Gulp. Puke.