ON ADDICTION TO ACTING >>>
Can I tell you how busy I am? You are, too, of course, but please, bear with me a moment: I got married last month, so I'm trying to squeeze all my possessions into my new wife's Tumwater condo. Not that I'm complaining, mind you; I've become a homeowner with minimal effort. Still, all my stuff has to go somewhere, and it turns out my somewhere is a yard sale. We have a full reception to plan, plus an Orlando getaway.Meanwhile, I have this job, but I'm also teaching two online classes for a rural Kansas community college. Starting in less than a month, I'm teaching (and grading!) a math class at Olympic College in Shelton. And my "real" job, the one that's paying for our extravagant Florida vacation, is writing online assistance in support of a soon-to-be-published math textbook. That'll morph into a job doing online tutorials, probably sometime this month. It's a lot.
So when John Munn, usually at Lakewood Playhouse but currently guest directing for Theater Artists Olympia, called to ask if I'd play a role in his production of Oleanna, every logical neuron in my body screamed, "Tell him no way!"
I said yes. No one was more surprised than I that I assented, save possibly my new wife. We were on our honeymoon at the time.
Why do I do it?--not just to myself, but to my long-suffering stage widow and career responsibilities as well? Granted, John was willing to work around my review schedule, but that just made it possible (well, semi-possible...I don't know how I'll review A Midsummer Night's Dream from Animal Fire). It sure didn't make it a wonderful idea. Oleanna, a 1992 work by David Mamet, is what we in the trade call a two-hander, a term that never fails to make certain friends giggle. It means there are only two people in the play, and now one of those two people is me.
The other actor is Deya Ozburn, whom I've worked with before, and I just think she's aces. Not only is she a gifted and beautiful actor, she's also peaches and cream to work with and be around. She's the kind of actor who, no matter how much we have to scream abuse at each other within the play, begins and ends every rehearsal with a heartfelt hug. John's a brilliant guy with a consistent track record as a director, not to mention the fact that he remembered my birthday this weekend. So that's all lovely, and a strong incentive to do the show. It's just not why I agreed to do the show.
Is it because I love acting? I don't think I do anymore, frankly, at least not most of the time. It's an enormous amount of work, especially as my ability to memorize dissolves. The lines for this show will be, I can promise you now, a stone cold bitch. I love theater people, but they can be a handful. I suspect there exists no other craft so magnetic to people who teeter on the high wire between glaring narcissism and suicidal self-loathing. (Guilty as charged, Your Honor.) The drive to Lakewood, currently at $3.84 a gallon, is a drag. And I'm missing my wife, and besides, her family won't come to see the show because I have to say one of my least favorite words in it. (I have favorite and least favorite words. I'm a writer. So sue me.) There is no logical reason for me to accept a role in Oleanna this summer. To be honest, I'm not even crazy about the play. So when my rational mind dissects the situation, there can be only one, inescapable conclusion: I'm addicted. It's a fact. My new father-in-law named it out loud: "The bug," he said flatly, as if to say, "The clap."
He's a musician himself, a damn good one, so I'm sure he kind of gets it. I don't. I've tried a sufficient number of party pharmaceuticals to know I don't have an addictive personality; yet here we are. I'm chasing the dragon, always pulled to the next show, the next possible fix of whatever high I derived from it in my long-ago youth on the boards. Acting used to be my claim to distinction; now I'm surrounded by excellent actors. There's nothing special about my ability, whatever that is, in South Puget. Acting used to be how I got close, sometimes happily close, to bright, pretty girls. Now I'm married to a bright, pretty woman. Acting used to be how I said what I had to say to the world. Now I'm finding it all but impossible to keep up with this blog and my own (at ChristianCarvajal.com). I've owed that eponymous blog an entry for weeks; hell, I haven't even mentioned my wedding there. Not cool!
Do they make a Dr. Phil, or at least a Dr. Drew, for my addiction? Is there a theater patch?