I think it is possible that today was one of the best days of my whole life. I made a roundabout trip from Providence to New York City with the cast of a show I am in. We are performing at Fringe Festival NYC starting this Saturday and today was our dress rehearsal in the theatre we were assigned to. The entire trip was daunting from the start; coordinating 16 people to be at a specific location on the Lower East Side by 2:30pm and then getting 14 of them back home again the same day was a logistical nightmare.
The very talented Hannah
mapped out a whole chart for the next two weeks showing who was coming and going what days, who was staying in the city and where, who was carpooling, what methods we were using to get into the city and it was insane. Today was the one day that most of the group was traveling together both ways and it could have been a clashing of personalities and moods, but it just wasn’t. Instead I found myself stopping every few minutes and looking at the people around me, the sights on the journey and really absorbing every moment knowing that I was so fortunate to be there. I was lucky to be included in this group of talented actors
who I believe will light up Fringe NYC and I am grateful to be active in a hobby that takes me on so many adventures.
The past few days I have been in a bad headspace and I was dealing with it just fine but I was noticeably sad. I have been telling people about this festival for months now and only a handful of people shared in my level of excitement. Only one person had the reaction I had been longing for; the reaction my mother would have had if I had been able to call her with this news.
A mother is the person in the world who gets excited for their child’s accomplishments as though they are their own. I wanted to tell someone about this huge life event and hear that they were excited and proud. I don’t feel that I needed to hear this to be excited or proud myself, but rather, I was already feeling those things and it was lonely to be experiencing that alone. Like finishing a marathon only to find there is nobody cheering at the end. You cross that red tape and cheer and realize you are just a sweaty idiot alone in the middle of the street 26 miles away from where you parked your car.
Then there is Lisa. My best friend who told me over and over how proud she was and how impressive she thought it all seemed. Then she told me she had bought a ticket for one of the shows and said, “Seeing you perform in this festival is important to me.” It was said in a text message but it stopped me where I stood. It was the exact thing I had needed to hear to feel like I wasn’t alone. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of people in my life who have expressed excitement and enthusiasm about this opportunity, but this was the only thing that made me feel like it mattered to her as much as it mattered to me. I should mention that Lisa lives over an hour further away from NYC and has a husband, two small children and a full time job, but she is coming because she wants to be there. That’s a powerful sentiment that doesn’t always get noticed, but I felt this fully and it was everything.
Today was just the dress rehearsal. I wanted to write this at one o’clock in the morning after a 16 hour day because I didn’t want to lose or forget a moment of it. I want to move into the next few days with the knowledge that this won’t last very long, but I know it is something I will remember forever. This isn’t about becoming famous or making it big in acting or getting my name out there. If five people sit in the audience each night I won’t care. This is about a play I loved the first time we performed it, with a cast
I believe to be exceptional and a director so wildly talented I fear I may never fully keep up. We are going to be in a festival many entered to be a part of and few in comparison were chosen. I want to see other shows and meet lots of other actors just as excited to be able to stand on a stage in New York City. I want to say that the stage I stood on meant something to me and that is enough.
Mostly I want to remember the key moments from today, the first day before the real ride began:
- Carpooling with three people who make road trips in movies look dull by comparison. We actually spent two hours driving home at midnight doing sing-a-longs at full volume to Madonna, Queen,
Led Zeppelin, Abba and Hall and Oates.
- Laughing in heat so unbearable it was hard to find air to breathe but we kept on joking.
- Squeezing 15 actors into one unisex dressing room while boys changed into speedos and nobody seeming uncomfortable or awkward; feeling like a big family.
- Creating a count off system while walking through the city to make sure we didn’t lose anyone and realizing that we were shouting numbers like assholes in the middle of Grand Central Station (also learning that the concept of counting and numbers isn’t so easy for everyone)
- Me: Let’s count off.
- Kevin: One
- Hannah: Can I be six?
- Me: You are literally two.
Rico: Oh! I want to be seven!
- Me: That’s not how counting works.
- Kevin: You’re realizing now you may not want to have kids, huh Sam?
- Learning that your friends are even more fun and are filled with more patience and kindness than you knew before.
One actor carrying a metal folding chair in 100 degree weather through NYC to have it as his prop. Watching him open and use said chair in the middle of Grand Central as well as the middle of our subway car. Then arriving at the theatre only to find at least half a dozen identical folding chairs already at the venue. Then naming the chair “foldie” to give it importance so we wouldn’t feel silly for having lugged it in two cars, a train, a subway and a mile walk.
- Walking into a beautiful theatre with a stage twice the size of the one we rehearsed on and realizing that we get to play in that space.
- Arriving home exhausted and barely walking with a huge smile on my face feeling inspired.
- Knowing that although the whole thing will fly by, right now it’s all still ahead of me and I’m lucky enough to have noticed the moment before it was gone.