It’s not unknown that the last two years have been hard and confusing. That I’ve been searching for something to fill that space in me. That space that I’ve been filling with things that I do enjoy. Jokes, laughter, making other people successful, performing things I enjoy, readings.
In February, as with every February, the anniversary of the beginning of the worst things rolled around, but it was also an audition for a show I’ve always desperately wanted to be in. I simply didn’t have the strength to do it. I believed with all of my being I could have been in it, but I didn’t think I could muster my strength to actually audition. The next weekend another audition presented itself. An audition with a new company that was focused on Shakespeare and his contemporaries. After a year of reading and a summer of improv, I decided my injured brain could handle this experience. It was, up to that point, the best audition of my life. I let myself go. I didn’t have anything to lose. I didn’t know these people. I still had comedy to fall back to if it didn’t go well. I could still stand if it didn’t go well, but it did go well. It went well enough that I walked out of there confident that I would get the role I wanted. So confident I went out to dinner with a friend to celebrate that very day, despite the bad news we had received personally between us.
A couple of weeks later I was cast in the very role I was certain I’d gotten, and I knew that meant comedy was going to take a bit of a back seat. It meant that a lot of things were going to take a bit of a back seat. When the break down of scenes came out, and it showed I was in every scene, but two and later every scene, but one everyone was going to lose a lot of face time. I knew that. People were largely understanding. Most people were largely understanding. I didn’t, however, want to stop investing in things I cared about. I would, while I could, make runs to the Let’s Comedy office before rehearsals. Grab a meal and run to the office after work. When one of our guys was in South Korea this month I made a point to run to the bar directly after work before every show if I could to set up the room and then run to rehearsal. I’d eat if I had time, which usually happened after rehearsal some time around 11. This is the life I wanted.
Being busy is one of the most lovely things to me. It can be exhausting, of course, but what it also does is keeps me from letting my depression and PTSD take control. Those two things often just need time to breathe to take over, and if they don’t have time to ruminate then they can’t take over my brain. If all I can think about is how Antipholous is looking at me and how I hope the room is filling up right now for Kinane and whether or not I actually said “else never” or “else ever” and if I remembered to bring my rosary out with me this time or not and did Jensen and I wear our blue socks on the same feet tonight? I don’t have time or space for my brain to get anxious with my depression or PTSD. I just don’t, which is beautiful. I’m not saying it’s healthy. It’s just what’s happening right now.
What has also happened because of this show is I have found my tribe. These people. They are kindred. There was an immediate connection. The woman I am almost constantly working alongside is someone I auditioned with. In the cold reads I threw her over my back, and she just let that happen. We’d never met, but she just let that happen. Her name also happens to be Halee. She also happens to have red hair. She also happens to get lost in obnoxious laughter that is constantly changing. We’ve slowly melded. And we aren’t the only ones. It’s not just her. I went out for drinks with another cast member one night, and we stayed out for six hours talking. It started with silly voices then got very serious then got silly then got serious then got kindred. People who understand that you ask if you can hug someone. A man in a Peanu Keeyes shirt. Kisses on everyone’s cheeks. Everyone is safe. Something about this group of people is different than other casts I’ve worked with before. When rehearsals were first starting, I was leaving my old job, and things were getting less than savory we’ll say. I wasn’t going to say anything, but I knew it was going to be a problem emotionally when it came time for rehearsal as rehearsals were getting more intense. I contacted my director who was 1) immediately indignant with me, and 2) understanding and supportive. Supportive in a way someone in his capacity had not been before. I was home. I was safe. I know I’m not alone in that.
I know because in this cast we’ve suffered losses, and we’ve carried each other. We’ve been injured, and we’ve carried each other and adapted. We’ve been emotionally damaged, and we’ve carried each other. These people are safe. These people are home. In a way I’ve never felt before, it’s going to be hard to walk away from this show on Sunday morning. I’m going to be sad not to see them every day. They are my tribe.
When Sunday hits I will cry. I will cry a lot, I imagine. I will try not to. I will work to distract myself. I’ll probably have brunch with Piper, because I don’t want to cry about how much I miss these people. I don’t cry when shows end. I will this time.
I tell you this now, because I do have a little time and last night we got to just spend some time together. Sure we had a brief rehearsal, but I also got to witness some of that carrying, some of that love and support. But I also wanted you to know you still have time to see this bond. You can still see this show before it’s gone. May 26, 27, and 28 at 8:00 p.m. at the Auer Center ArtsLab at 300 E Main Street in Fort Wayne, IN. Tickets are only $15.00
My tribe. I found my tribe.