Saturday, May 07, 2011

The Acting Life

I was recently asked by a weekend house guest about my much talked about former career as an actor. This is something I hesitate to talk about. I am not ashamed or sad about this period in my life. It's just not something that matters much to me anymore. I have settled down comfortably. So many things have changed. I have a cat now as well as a Blu-Ray Disc player. I've reached that period many have spoken about in O Magazines. I'm not looking back anymore and I have entrepreneurial interests. I am thinking about starting a small business making homemade scented soaps and lotions with old timey labels that go bad after a week because they contain no preservatives, something I think is very important.

But as she was a houseguest, I indulged her curiosity and opened up my mental scrapbook of my life "on the boards." We made a pot of tea and I opened up a package of sea salt crackers that I received in a Tuscan themed gift basket from my lawyer. As I sipped a Coke Zero and munched on some Fiery Hot Cheetos, we went back.

I began my theater career as many do, in secondary school. I was cast as the leading role in "Twelve Angry Men," a classic absurdest play about 12 men who are locked in a room. These men are obsessed, for whatever reason, with a murder that took place. The play is five hours long and is a very confusing comment on a very important issue about society. Of course, the cultural significance of the play and the critical acclaim it garnered was lost on me at such a young age. This was my first play, my first leading role. What I remember about this play the most was that it was my very first (and not surprisingly not my very last) experience surrounded by an entire cast of male and female homosexuals.

If someone saw what was going on outside of rehearsals and performances they might have though they stumbled into a apocalyptic brothel. The show was, for that reason, halted before its final weekend due to a syphilis outbreak that plagued everyone but the director and myself. Many of the people involved in the outbreak never recovered and are institutionalized to this day. I know this because my friend requests on Facebook are left unanswered. I assume these "dummy pages" were set up by friends and family to protect their loved ones. I won best actor for this performance which gave me freedom to literally pick and choose my projects in the future.

The next role I chose was during my senior year of college at the very prestigious McHenry County College. It was the lead in "Crimes of The Heart" a melodrama about southern women. The play was a comment on society and women talking in southern ways about someone who died and a lawyer comes over and sets things straight. I played the much coveted role of the southern lawyer who comes to the house with a briefcase and says pessimistic things. One of the women falls in love with my character because he is a good guy and she's had enough of her old boyfriend who is pretty mean.

During the second night of the play, I had an experience which frightened me. In a scene at the kitchen table, I blanked out and forgot everything. I sat silent for what seemed like an hour. Luckily my co-star, a noted lesbian, prompted me with my line and we got on track again. Although I ultimately recovered and moved on, the school never did. The school administration and the media were thrust into a veritable Japanese Circus because of the incident. The drama department at the school lost its funding. Enrollment dropped dramatically and sadly, a year later, the school burned down in what many believe was an insurance/arson scam or whatever its called when people burn down buildings to get money. This happened to a grocery store in my town. The grocery store was never rebuilt. To this day, when I think about this play I can almost feel the emotions threatining to roll back and take over. Luckily, I have a wonderful psycho-pharmacologist.

After a brief hiatus from acting, the director of "Crimes of the Heart," a closeted, notoriously endowed homosexual, asked me to be the lead in an improvisational comedy experiment. After some initial hesitation, I agreed under the condition that I was paid considerably more than the rest of the cast. He agreed not only because I deserved much more than the others, but because I threatened to out him to his wife, who coincidentally, was a well endowed, alcoholic lesbian.

The improvisational experiment proved to be a success. The other actors (all homosexuals and one bipolar transvestite amputee) were mostly competent performers. But it was my name, and my precision comedic timing that filled those seats. The audience and the other critics knew this and suffered through the scened I was not in. When I left the show, due to a Tuberculosis scare, the show and the theater shut down. I often think about those actors now while cutting my toenails or emptying the bathroom trash can. I wonder if they are still performing or if they have, like most sexual deviants, taken jobs in IT. Perhaps they can find a way to infuse some of what they learned from me into their daily lives. That's all I can hope for.

My houseguest was very interested in my Oscar winning performances in "The Lighthouse," "Julie's Plan," "The Mopwasher," "Careful Who You Kiss" and "The Des Moines Affair." She was very sad that she found no mention of these films in any film periodicals or even online. I understood, you can usually find anything online. Like, let's say you find that there are some mischievous chipmunks in your dishwasher. You can type "I have chipmunks in my dishwasher" into Google and sure enough Delores in Seattle is posting about her chipmunk experience on DishwasherForum.

There is no information about these films because I have not allowed it. No DVD releases, no midnight screenings, no fan clubs. I have controlled this part of my life and any information concerning it. I did this, again, not because I have anything to hide. I did this to protect the people involved in these films- most, if not all alcoholic homosexuals and lesbians. Of course, I wouldn't say I agree with their "alternative lifestyles." I do believe that whatever happens in your bedroom should stay in your bedroom and/or on videotape carefully kept in Steve Madden shoe boxes under your bed.

Unfortunately, whether or not she knew, it was time for my house guest (a bicurious ventriloquist) to go. I escorted her to the door, firmly, by the arm. She thanked me for the weekend, and I thanked her for coming. She had one more question, and I indulged her. "Will you ever return to acting?" she asked.

This is a tough question that I get asked a lot. "For the right role, the right amount of money and the right co-star and the right lighting and the right amount of mayonnaise based chilled salads all in big frosted plastic jewel toned bowls- Yes, of course I would" I said.

And with that I said goodbye and wished her luck with whatever it is that she does and whatever kids or whatever. By then, it was early Saturday morning. I laid down on my couch and took an Ambien and let myself remember... just for a few minutes.

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