Let’s talk about failure.

I wish I was the kind of person who, when rejected, says, “I’ll show them!” and feels inspired to work harder, try harder, never give up!

I am not that kind of person.  I am the kind of person, who, when rejected, tends to doubt my right to exist.

I didn’t get a callback from Phoenix Theatre, and no I am NOT going to check my email again because I KNOW it is going to be empty and that wound will open up in my gut again if I look.  Plus they wouldn’t send out callback emails at 9 p.m.  Would they?

No they would not.

I don’t know when being in a Phoenix Theatre show became my ultimate dream.  But judging from my level of emotional crushed-ness, it has indeed become my ultimate dream.  A dream squashed.

I admit, after realizing I didn’t get called back, my first reaction was, “That’s it.  I’m done.  I’m not good enough, and I’m not doing this anymore.”

Now, I’m not so sure I’m giving up (that’s so Mama Rose circa 1998), but I am still wondering if maybe I’m just not good enough.  Honestly, I didn’t think the audition was that bad.  I felt a little rushed, and it wasn’t spectacular – we didn’t have any kind of “moment” that I thought ensured they’d remember me…but they did comment on my dance experience, so I thought at least I’d make it to the general dance call back.

But no.  So I mean…I must have REALLY sucked, right?

I must have…

I just wish they’d given me the chance to dance.  I realize my voice isn’t going to sell out Carnegie Hall, and I am always learning as an actor.  But I think my strengths lie in the total package – a dancer/singer/actor.  I’m able to shine (or maybe not?) when I’m doing all three.

I just wish I could have danced.

I’m getting older.  And I know I can’t get too old for theatre…there will always be wonderful parts no matter my age.  But I can get too old to dance.  And that’s what I feel slipping away.

Why did I waste all those years being so afraid?  …Oh yeah, because of this exact feeling.

Help me feel better by telling me how you have coped with failure in your life.

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We got a bad review.

I don’t think I’ll link to it, to protect the names of the innocent.  But here’s the headline:  “Bye Bye Birdie has drama-club feel.”

Ouch.

The critic adored our leading lady, found Mrs. Peterson hilarious, and begrudgingly admitted that Albert was good, too.  But she put all that in a tiny sidebar that’s barely noticeable. 

In the main article, there are accusations of blandness and lack of creativity.  She claims that one joke was followed by silence, even though I’m standing right there every time that joke is delivered, and that joke always gets a laugh.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure whether to be bummed or relieved that I’m not mentioned.  I don’t like to feel invisible, but I’m glad I escaped her wrath.

I’m not one of those people who believe that all critics are bitter hacks (although I do think there are very few good critics).  I think critics serve a valuable purpose – providing straightforward feedback, while challenging artists to push themselves toward higher creative heights.

But I must respectfully disagree, Miss Critic.  I just don’t think there’s anything bland about our show.  And if it has a drama-club feel, well – everyone knows the drama club kids are always the most fun!

Voice Mail

February 24, 2010

So I got a message from Tempe Little Theatre yesterday, asking if I would like to join the cast of Sweet Charity, like NOW.  Apparently three girls have had to drop out due to medical reasons and so they’re a tiny bit frantic, trying to fill out the cast before they open in about a month.

They’d heard that the director had some reservations about my pregnancy (so is THAT why?  it’s not that I suck?), but if I felt I was up to it…

I said no.  No, thank you, because even though Katy Choreographer’s involved, I’m not feeling the vibe with this show.  And because I am getting big quickly, and my back hurts.  And I’m tired.  Oh, and I’m having a BABY.  And I should probably get ready for that.  Say, dive into that office/disaster and turn it into a baby’s room, which will definitely take every last minute of the next few months (especially because I would so much rather watch Lost and ice dancing than wade through piles of…. I don’t even KNOW what’s in there).

But OH I miss theatre.  I miss being on a stage, memorizing lines, learning dance steps.  I miss being me, and not Mommy all the time.  I love being a mother more than anything, but now that it’s been almost a year since I’ve been in a show (sigh), I feel my identity being swallowed up by this little daughter of mine, so hungry for me and my attention all the time.  I’m a good mother, but I think I was an even better mother when I was more…filled with myself.  And now there’s another little hungry one on the way, and in a few short months I will be swallowed whole.  Willingly, of course.  Happily consumed by motherhood – but counting the days (weeks, months), until I can audition again.

FAIL

January 22, 2010

…Again.

I didn’t get cast at all in “Sweet Charity.”  Callbacks were last night, in the middle of a storm with 60 mph winds here in Phoenix – and I really should have stayed home.

Right away I felt, just…wrong.  Out of place, like I didn’t belong.  Like I was trying to be someone I’m not – which I realize is the very definition of acting, but in this instance it was just an ooky-feeling, not an acty-feeling.  On top of it, my outfit was all wrong, my shoes were all wrong, but I didn’t have time to eke out something better at home because of the feverish little girl clinging to me on my couch  – I really should have just stayed clung.

But anyway, I didn’t stay home.  I gusted into the audition room, sat down and was handed some scenes to read – but they were Charity scenes.  Huh?  Charity?  In the email when Director J encouraged me to try out even though I’m pregnant, he said, quite clearly, “Well, obviously you couldn’t be Charity.”  Obviously!  So why am I reading for Charity and not the secondary characters?  The only conclusion I could come up with was that Director J didn’t have any intention of casting me, but was just being nice in asking me to come to callbacks.  I tried to digest that while I studied Charity’s lines.  I hadn’t prepared for Charity at all.  Finally, Director J started selecting people to read lines, and when he called my name, I got to read about half a page, while the other Charity contenders read whole scenes.  Then I just sat there for a long time while all the other girls read for Charity and for the secondary characters, Nickie and Helene, which I had prepared for.

After a while, we took a break and I just kept thinking, what am I doing here?  My mind was completely muddled, and little baby boy kept poking my tummy.  What are you trying to tell me, little one?  You don’t want to be in a show?  Then we reassembled, and Director J called six of us up to let us know that we were all still in the running…for Nickie and Helene.  Huh??  I asked Director J if he realized that I hadn’t read at all for Nickie or Helene.  “You haven’t?  Well, I know what you can do,” he said.  Then he handed me a Nickie/Helene scene to read.

My brain was mush.  Any confidence I had or preparation I’d done was out the window.  And all the poking!  Finally, I got to read for Nickie, and I blew it.  It just wasn’t good.  I slumped back to my seat.

On top of everything, Director J was cutting people as we went.  Meaning, he would call people up to him, and whisper to them that they’re wonderful, and then they’d slink out of the room.  Some of them were offered roles as ensemble, and some of them were offered other things that they declined, and some of them were just politely cut.  But still – it was a quiet room.  We could hear what was going on.  Usually directors just hold auditions, let everyone leave, and then call later, privately, with the results.  I know different directors do things differently, but let me just say that personally, I am not a fan of Director J’s new method.  Not.  A.  Fan.

Anyway, the remaining group got smaller and smaller, and then Director J called three girls up to his table.  He talked to them for a moment, then announced that he’d just cast Charity, Nickie and Helene.  And that’s fine, they’ll all be great.  Then, he announced that there were three spots left in the ensemble, and that his top three choices for those roles were Girl 1, Girl 2, and Girl 3.  If any of those girls happened to turn down the roles, he added, then his next choices were Girl 4, me, and Girl 6.  In other words, I was his second-to-last choice.  In other words, I’m not cast.

That sucked.

I know, I know – actors face lots of rejection and I’ve just got to get used to it.  But it still feels shitty.  I’ve only been to five auditions, but now my rejections outnumber my successes.  And my fragile ego teeters on the edge  (remember, I’m still the girl that was too afraid to audition for anything for about 15 years).

The fact that this marks the end of my showbiz run before a long break for Mommyhood feels massively crappy.  Massively.  Crappy.

And so with that, my friends, I’m going to take the rest of the weekend off from the ol’ blogola to wallow in self-pity.

I’ll be over it on Monday.

Maybe.

Wah-Wahhhh

October 7, 2009

(That’s the “you lose!” sound, not the sound of me crying.)

No callback.

I know, I know, I’m going to have to get used to rejection, take my medicine, it’s good for me blah blah but it still BLOWS THE BIG ONE.  It’s possible that I may have been a little high on my horse – riding high on all my good feedback, my Zoni nomination – so high that I forgot I only have two credits on my resume.  That’s not terribly impressive to a director.  And maybe I just didn’t audition very well, I don’t know.  I’m sure I could use a lot more practice.

I just hope this rejection doesn’t portend a coming trend.

Getting in the car right after I got the “sorry, sucka” email, I decided to tell Moo the news, because I think it’s good for her to see that we all have to deal with disappointments and frustrations:

Mama:  “I’m a little sad, Moo.  I found out I’m not going to be in that doggie show.”

Moo:  “Your audition, Mommy?”

Mama:  “Yep, everybody auditioned, and they decided they didn’t want me to be in the show.”

Moo:  “Ohhhh, Mommy.”

Mama:  “It’s okay!  I’ll be in another show.  It’s somebody else’s turn this time.”

Moo:  “Maybe a real doggy, Mommy!”

Damn.  I should have gone full-dog.

Back in 1988, I started high school at a private girls’ Catholic school, a magical land of short plaid skirts and cheesy pretzels for lunch.  Hoping for a fresh start from my more nerdy days in grade school, I carefully scanned all the girls during those first few days.  I spotted them quickly – my ideal group of friends.

They were perched on a picnic table during break, talking and giggling.  They looked pretty but not intimidating.  I had World Cultures with one of them and she seemed really smart.  One of them had really pretty hair.  Pretty hair is always the kicker for me.

So I scoped them out and tried to determine how to make my way in.  I realized the window was quickly closing, and soon, everybody would be firmly settled in cliques for keeps.  My mom and I had discussions over dinner – maybe I should compliment the girl with the pretty hair… maybe I should ask the smart girl a question in World Cultures… maybe I should just go up and introduce myself.  That’s such a mommish thing to suggest, and unfortunately it’s the one I chose.

I don’t remember exactly what I said, I just remember finding an open spot in their circle one day and laughing at somebody’s joke.  They didn’t shout, “Ignore!” and push me to the ground, or mark a big black X on my forehead.  They just refused to make eye contact with me, and slowly closed the circle until I was pushed out.  Boom. Rejected.

I didn’t hold it against them – my attempt at clique entry was lame at best.  By sophomore year I found a wonderful group of friends, in which I attained entry after interviewing with the queen bee and making her laugh with a joke about Mountain Dew making guys impotent – that is true, isn’t it?  But I always admired the other girls from afar.

Flash-forward almost 20 years, and here I am, best friends with Rosalind, who just happens to be dear friends with most of those girls from my most-desired clique.  She deviously hid this fact from me when we became friends at the end of high school.  Now, every Christmas when they all come back into town, they get together.  Rosalind always mentions it and I think, ooh, maybe this year I’ll get invited too!  But, alas, no invite.  Finally, when Rosalind mentioned it this year (and after I’d had two Bailey’s-on-the-rocks), I blurted out, “I wanna go!”  And instead of the circle quietly closing and pushing me out, this time I was allowed into the circle.  They even made eye contact with me!

The smart girl is still really smart.  The girl with pretty hair still has really pretty hair, and she says “shit” a lot, which makes me like her even more.  And though I would never want to go back in time and trade in my own treasured group of high school friends, I still glowed from finally being allowed into the clique of my dreams, for one glorious night of pear martinis and coconut gelato.  I made it!  For one night, I was cool.   Yes, all my dreams from freshman year in high school have finally come true.  Maybe I’m on a roll – I should call up the hot guy from “Sixteen Candles” and see if he’s finally ready to admit his love for me.

I really, desperately need Moo to nap.  She hasn’t napped in two days (20 minutes does not count), and we are beginning to suffer, as a Mommy/Moo unit.  Every reminder, delay, suggestion or bonk makes her wail, and every wail makes me bark things like, “Well, Moo, I was going to wash the dishes while you napped, but you didn’t nap did you? So now I have to do the dishes, and you should think about that the next time it’s time for you to snooze.  Got it?” Um, no.  She does not get it.  She’s 17 months old, and she just wants you to make Boing the octopus fall off the big ball and go, “Whooaa! I fell down!”  

It does not help that I’m tired, too, staying up late being bloggy, and it also does not help that I’m still checking my phone repeatedly, thinking maybe I misheard the director and he said he’d call today, or maybe he doesn’t need me to do callbacks because he just knows that they’re going to use me as a dancer, and will call soon to tell me.  And then I hit myself in the head repeatedly and turn off my phone, and then turn it on again and see that STILL no one has called, and then just put it on silent, but then change my mind and turn the volume up, when all the while I should just be making Boing fall off the big purple ball, because that is my Duty as a mother!  Snap to it, woman!

At this point I would just like SOMEONE to call me.  Anyone.  And this is from a woman who hates talking on the phone almost more than I hate cleaning the toilet.  But seriously, I will buy a cupcake for the first person who calls me.  With sprinkles!  I would just like to hear the damn thing ring.

Oh no, I hear snuffling from Moo’s bedroom.  Must make a dive for the couch while I can.