Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Diary of a Theatre Gal

When I was five, I dressed up as a teacher for career day. I had on a cute knitted vest with the ABC's and a bright red apple stitched onto the front, my hair in a big bow and a bright smile on my face. I knew that I wanted to work with students, stand at the front of a classroom, and forever be part of the learning process. Ten years later I would deny with my whole heart that I would ever willingly step back into a high school after graduation. Teaching? Psh. Who actually wanted to do that?

Oh wait, I did. I do. But it's not just teaching that is on my horizon. It's theatre, the art of intentional and creative storytelling, a passion I hold near and dear to my heart. It is so much of who I am and why I do what I do, yet I rarely write about it here. Strange, huh? At least I think so.

It seems easier to tell you about my goal planning strategies or to hit the highlights of Instagram including weekend trips and wacky encounters, but theatre? I've found myself word-less too many times, worried that diving into this part of my life might send people away. It's silly, but I catch myself thinking that this world is too much of it's own bubble for other people to understand. I don't know why that's my way of thinking. 


One of my favorite things to do is to ask other people about their passions! Whether it is accounting, skiing, or high-wire trapeezing (if that's even a thing...), I love hearing about it, even if I didn't know a thing about it before the conversation started. Why then do I feel the need to almost apologize for my chosen path. Maybe it's the ten-too-many looks of surprise or condescension I received in college when saying that I was a theatre major. People don't often know what to make of that. Maybe it's my desire to teach in a field where so many want to "make it" in New York or LA. Simply because my calling is different does not make it less-than. That is a truth I am trying to sink into.

So somedays I spend three hours sewing fuzzy dorm rugs together to make a bean bag chair for a show. Others I read script after script, play after play, analyzing theories and writing papers. I might spend an entire evening in the theatre's basement rehearsing for class, or take a Saturday to memorize ten pages. Theatre is such an exciting and meaningful part of my life. I want to feel confident enough in it to share it with you more often.


I really wasn't kidding about sewing fuzzy rugs together.. that's how I spent my Saturday last weekend. But I also spent my weekend auditioning. Someone asked me if it was like in the movies where you have to wait for a list to be posted to know who is in the show. Well, my friends, let me tell you it is EXACTLY like the movies in that way. 

On Saturday morning I waltzed into the theatre to perform a monologue --a one-minute, one person scene-- in front of professors and directors, and halfway through it I drew a big ol' blank in my mind. The lines I had memorized flew away against my will, and I had to improvise a few lines before remembering the ending. I laughed, smiled, waved, and waltzed right back out the room, my fate in the hands of five people. (There's a great article floating around there about the ridiculousness of casting and just how crazy this theatre thing is...) From there I changed into paint-covered clothes to sit on a balcony and sew for five hours. When the work call ended, I changed back into a dress and hid in the lighting booth to play music for a show the rest of the evening. A day full of theatre is always a day well spent in my mind.

Sunday morning I returned to the theatre for callbacks. After the initial round of auditions, each director chose a handful of actors to bring back for a second round. I was called back for the play and the part I most wanted, a beautiful piece called These Shining Lives. It is about the radium girls of the 1920's and 30's, women who went to work to make a better life for themselves only to be poisoned by the radium they worked with. The play follows a young woman named Catherine who is telling her story and the women's journey for justice as they decide to sue the company.

We spent three hours reading various scenes from the play, all waiting and hoping that the director would like our particular take on the character. I'm not kidding when I say waiting your turn among ten talented ladies to read for a dream role is one of the most stressful things I've done in a while. I'd forgotten what this feels like. I only read for Catherine, but so did many others. When we were finally released, the butterflies in my stomach began tap-dancing, and they did not cease for the next six hours. 

In the usual fashion of a theatre gal, I went straight from auditions to a performance and from the performance to a rehearsal. This world never stops spinning. It wasn't until after rehearsal on the way to a meeting that I dared to run into the theatre building to get a glimpse at the call board. The cast list was posted and my heart dropped to the stomach. But then I saw my name... I got the part! 



My spring has just bloomed into the most beautiful kind of crazy. I am over the moon about playing the lead in a play I love so much, and it feels like years of hard work have finally paid off. I wanted to share the news with you all, and invite you into the process. Want to know what my life is really like? Follow me on Instagram @baileyjeanrobert and be on the look out for #diaryofatheatregal to see just what I do day in and day out.

Thank you all for being such a sweet source of encouragement and support! I cannot wait to share more of this with you! 

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