The anger pierced my skin from the inside out. It traveled
from deep in my gut and burst out my throat in a torrential
storm of vehemence
It is an image that will stick with me for a while.
I saw my friend, Sheila, standing in the wings. I was
rehearsing, fully in the moment and angrier than I have
been in… probably years. In a flash of energy I lost my
line-thought, it vanished. What I remember was throwing
my head back and yelling an expletive because I thought
I had stepped over Rikk’s lines.
Sheila’s voice came out from the wings, “No, hon,
you are ok…”
So I kept breathing and finished. And stepped off stage
and whispered-or-did-I-shout-“Dammit!” I can’t remember
how loud I was with that word, I just know I felt it from
the soles of my feet to the top of my head.
I am usually pretty calm, pretty upbeat, so this seething
me… very different energy. I couldn’t even see for a
minute, my eyes were glued shut.
Jared stood next to me and calmly said, “I am having the
same problem tonight, I can’t seem to be able to
get the lines out.”
I looked at him, still angry, and said,. “I am just so
mad at me. I just so want to get it right….”
It had been a three-theatre-day in a weekend full of
theatre related activity, most of which was intense
and pressure-packed. I was teching “Macbeth” at the
Empty Space – a substitute tech for closing night
which brought striking-the-set on Sunday morning.
That mostly meant, for me, cleaning and carrying
stuff around, putting things away.
I sat in my idling car on Oak Street and California
after strike and started crying. I was doing some emotional
work for “Streetcar” and just let it rip as I waited for the light
to turn green. When we started moving forward, I noticed
Thomas Brill, a cast member from “Macbeth” had
been idling in the lane next to me.
I wondered if he saw me crying. In a flash I realized
I didn’t care. “I am Julie, I cry. How do you do?”
In the afternoon and early evening I was providing
support at the producer of “Rocky Horror”. I sat and
watched rehearsal, provided water, made sure the cast,
crew – everyone – had as much of what they needed
as I could provide.
I schlepped stuff for the band, restocked toilet paper
and brought bottled water for everyone to drink in
what feels like the perpetually overheated space.
I watched rehearsal, sitting in awe of the performers
who were giving it their all. I couldn’t take my eyes
off Caroline-playing-Columbia and the woman playing
Janet, a woman I have sang karaoke with at both the
Junction and Kosmos, I think her name is Terese.
She is so cute, so good – so quintessential Janet in
a 50’s Barbie style. Loved it.
Next it was rehearsal for Streetcar, the end-of-the-day
task doing what I enjoy the most – performing, being
onstage. I had two aims for rehearsal – to work without
my script for the first time and to follow up on the notes
from the last rehearsal.
I needed to be louder in my angry scenes. I needed to
amp up my energy.
My first scene went relatively well except for my inability
to remember the line, “That’s where you are now.”
I spent more time backstage, finding Eunice’s walk. Being
where Eunice is as the other action is occurring onstage and
she is not seen. I started to hear some of Eunice’s thoughts.
This always helps me in performance, when the Julie thoughts
begin to vanish and the character thoughts begin to take their
proper place on the forefront of consciousness.
It was time for seething, unleashed anger.
I have been known to say I don’t need to go to therapy anymore
because I have theatre. Rehearsal has been my greatest
medicine since my brother, John, died. It is almost like
my meditation, my release, my playtime, my play doh and
finger painting – detached yet highly committed to bringing
forth something of value.
I remember in “Into the Woods” when I faced down the
Giant in order to protect my son. My mother told me the
woman sitting next to her said, “Wow, she is really yelling!”
as if that was astonishing. Her thought, I suppose, was that
I should pretend to yell or pretend to feel the importance
of protecting my little boy from sure death.
I loved fighting for “my son” because when my real-life
daughter died I didn’t have the chance to fight. I had often
said I would have traded my life for hers and this one – this
time – in character, I got to do exactly that. I (my character)
died and “my son” lived. I wasn’t angry in that shouting
match, I was empowered, I was determined, I was Mama Bear.
This shouting match is different.
It feels like I am fighting on behalf of “woman hurt” overall.
Yes, I am fighting for Stella but I am also fighting, once again,
for myself and madder than anything that I have to keep
fighting this fight over and over and this, this, this fight
is quaking me to my core… again. I sense Eunice has said
these almost exact words before and she will, more than
likely, say these exact words again, for the Stellas and
whoever the heck else comes along and needs a protector.
And I also get the sense that Eunice didn’t have anyone to
fight for her, so that shows up in my show down, too. Yes,
I am fighting for Stella - and more than that, I am
fighting for myself.
Fighting for myself. It brings another onslaught of tears.
Deb just wrote to me, concerned when I
told her I was busily “writing and crying.”
I responded, “I am emotional. Crying isn't bad. I am
processing. Crying is cleansing.”
Interesting. In allowing myself the space to cry through
all this I am wrestling with myself. I am stretching the
muscles of my Julie Self. I am becoming comfortable
and settling into this latest version of me. I am consciously
bringing on the tears, daring myself to feel through everything,
completely, complexly, creatively.
Theatre, among my favorite art forms – the place where I
experience transcendence and discover me, more fully me.
Richard O’Brien’s Rocky Horror Show opens May 4 at Midnight
at Bakersfield Community Theatre: 2400 S. Chester (just north of
Wilson) and runs for three weekends with shows at Midnight on
Friday and Saturday with 8 PM shows on the first two Saturdays.
Call 831-8114 to make reservations.
Streetcar Named Desire opens on May 11 at 8 PM at the
Spotlight Theatre, Located in the Historic Hayden
Atrium Building in downtown Bakersfield.
Call 634-0692 to make reservations.
Julie Jordan Scott