Found out tonight from my Vancouverite friend Jullian Kolstee that I have been picked by lottery to perform in this upcoming year’s Vancouver International Fringe Festival.
My immediate reaction? Practical. Okay, now I need a script, I need to actively look for costume pieces – to make costume choices – and set pieces. And to decide whether I am using a second actor, or trying to pull off this show on my own. I’ve never performed by myself for more than five minutes – to do so for an entire Fringe show…
In a reaction that startles me, I’m oddly confident. No dread, no fear, but rather, a strange mix of eagerness, apprehensiveness, ambition, power, and hope. I believe, I FIRMLY believe, in my ability to pull this off and put on a good show people will talk about with their friends. Maybe even make them really feel. I believe.
What is the show, you ask? Well, I submitted an idea I’ve had for a while, but never put to paper in my concentration on acting over the past couple of years – The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. The Hatter, chronicling his life, from a regular person to his getting stuck in Wonderland, to his decision to turn to madness as a way of coping, or possibly as a way of finally finding happiness. I seem to have a preoccupation with people who choose the imaginary over the real, the absurd over the concrete. Perhaps because I have been doing so much of that in my own life.
I could have been a mildly successful, highly rational scientist. But I’ve chosen something different. I’m an actor. And a writer. And an improviser. And a man who hopes. Who believes.
And while I’ve been working on this aspect of myself for the past five years at least, it’s only in the past little while that I’ve felt the confidence, the assuredness, that what I hope for, what I believe in, I can achieve.
I recently stood up before the majority of the theatre department at UVic and did something I’d never done for an audience before – I improvised a song. Asked for a song title, then belted it, lived in the moment, came up with each line as I went. And I may have been quivering a little beforehand, but when the song started, I just went for it, because I knew I could hit the right mark.
This school term, I acted in a SATCo (Three Angry Pigs), in a directing scene (Picnic), in a directed study (This Property is Condemned), in classwork, in Theatresports, in improv shows with the Impromaniacs, and in Titus Andronicus. I chose to do EVERYTHING because I knew I could.
I recently auditioned for a weekly improv show. In the audition, I performed alongside nine others, including many with decades more experience than I have. But I knew I could get the callback, and I did. We’ll see how that goes on Monday.
I signed up for the Vancouver Fringe Festival because, for whatever reason, I believed I could pull it off on the unlikely chance I was chosen. And I can.
Reflecting back on all this, I feel like one of Dorothy’s friends at the end of the film, finally getting my confidence not through a magic bestowal from a phony wizard, but from years of personal growth, from hard work and positive thinking. That’s not to say I’ve not got a long ways to go… the great challenge of this Fringe show aside, I’m still not confident enough when it comes to my own physical body (thinking of doing a handstand makes me squirm for some reason, and I know I can be in better shape) or when it comes to relationships (though that area in my life is just sparkling right now). But when it comes to the act of creation… I’ve never felt so able.
Possible one-man-show, in the big city, built from scratch? Bring it on. From now until my birthday at the end of Fringe, September 18th, there’ll be a spark of Madness in my eye. Can hardly wait. 🙂