Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ready For My Close-up, Mr DeMille

About a half a hundred years ago, before I was married or a mother, when I was a little twig of a thing, what I wanted more than anything in the world was to be an actress. I didn't care if I was famous or won awards, I just wanted to act in plays. I even picked my college  because of its association with one of the oldest Shakespeare Festivals in the country. There were roles that I longed to play when I got mature enough to play them. Now I am a little too mature.

Of course we all have dreams that are changed with the realities of our lives. I didn't get my degree at Southern Oregon College. In fact it took me nearly 20 years to finish my Bachelor's degree. Along with college, my acting career took a backseat to all the other exciting things that came my way: world travel, Air Force career, marriage, parenthood, mortgages, utility bills, broken pipes, car repairs, etc.

Still, I managed to pick up a part here and there in a community theater production, and for the past ten years or so I have subscribed to local professional theater companies where I live. I bought the first subscription (for Washington DC's fabulous Arena Stage) the second time that Bill totally forgot my birthday. I renewed it every year until we moved to Colorado, and he got the credit for giving me a great birthday gift.

This year's subscription is to the Arvada Performing Arts Center where tonight I saw Sunset Boulevard. For those unfamiliar with the story, this is the Andrew Lloyd Weber musical based on the old Gloria Swanson film of the same name about an aging actress with illusions of restarting her faded career. It was hard not to relate to the storyline of the actress writing her own script so that she has something to act in. Except, unlike Norma Desmond, I have no illusions about being an ingenue. I am ready for the mature rolls, the character parts -- I've been playing them for years.

Now, I am pretty sure this is irony, at least the way I define it. At long last, I am at a place in my life that I could go be an actor*; and I don't think I want to do that. At least not right now. Each day I am in search of the authentic me in this new life I find myself in. I am watching and listening to learn who this person is that I am attached to. I'm questioning some of the assumptions I've made about her. I have a sense that acting the part of another would kind of get in the way of that, somehow.

*actress is a diminutive expression and not PC


Mary Lou Hymel said...

Sharon, acting the part of another is a good way to discover things you didn't know about yourself. I highly recommend it! If you want to ease yourself into it, volunteer to do things backstage at a local theater. It will be a different experience, and that by itself can be a good thing. Stay open to new possibilities and best of luck with it!

Sharon G. Frizzell said...

Thanks, Mary Lou! I am actually considering some ways to do that. One thing I would enjoy is working with local high school theater programs behind the scenes.

webpilot said...

What? So this is not you acting on stage?

I am pretty sure that Parker has a community theater. You ought to check into that.