TERRIFYING AND TERRIFIC
I am in a Theater Workshop of Nantucket play. As always on Nantucket, the world is open to us. Despite having never acted, I was given an opportunity to try to act. One of the many reasons I love Nantucket so much is that it welcomes the novice and offers the chance to try new things.
This is the first play that I have been in since I played a tree in kindergarten. I think that I was given the part because I couldn’t sing, and the teacher had to think of something for me to do while the rest of the children were singing. My mother, who had a lot on her mind, forgot to send me to school with a costume, so at the last minute we found some slightly dirty, very wrinkled brown pants and a brown t-shirt in the school lost and found. They were huge on me, and we had to use a string as a belt to hold them up. Much to my humiliation, the class had to stop what they were doing and cut out leaves to tape on me. I was quite a sight. My sole job was to sway in the wind while the other children sang three songs. As I swayed, the leaves fell off one-by-one. This might have been wonderfully dramatic had it been planned, but it had not. They fell off because they had been hastily taped on.
Needless-to-say, this was my one and only foray into drama—until now.
You might wonder why I tried out for a play at this point in my life having managed to live a rich and full life without acting to this point. And, I must admit I am asking myself the same question. The answer is easy, however. I LOVE THIS PLAY.
LOVE, LOSS, AND WHAT I WORE was written by Nora Ephron and her sister Delia Ephron. It is a series of monologues and dialogues about what we wore at pivotal points in our lives. Funny, poignant, and often pointed, it touches everyone in one way or another. It moves the actor and the viewer to uproarious laughter and to tears. As we rehearsed, we discovered that many of our unhealthy attitudes about food and body images are alive and well---despite a lifetime of trying to exorcise them. Rehearsals run late as we tell our own stories. Lines like, “You would be so pretty if . . .you lost weight—gained weight—didn’t make faces—fixed your nose” etc. bring back painful memories of childhood. But there are also stories of liberation of growth and of newly found independence from the voices of our mothers—of society.
A far cry from my tree costume, my outfit for this play is sublime. Tracy from HEPBURNS donated costumes. We were invited to come in an try one as many as we wanted to try on. I was so excited that I think I might have tried on everything in the store. Fabulous, unique, one-of-a-kind jewlery is donated by WATER JEWELS of Nantucket. I truly feel like a star! No pasted on leaves for me this time.
Nevertheless, when we tried on our costumes, we agonized over how we looked. Some of us changed our costumes three or more times. We worried about our arms, our stomachs, our ankles. We truly thought we had outgrown such body insecurities years ago--but maybe not. Still, some of the women knew they looked “smoking hot” from the moment they put their costumes on, and eventually we all came to terms with the bodies that we had at this point in our lives and decided to love them as they were. This is a very real play about very real women—and that is who we are.
Most of the cast—maybe ALL of the cast—except for me—are experienced actors. I am terrified. I am taking valuable time away from studying my script (even though we have our script books with us all the time) to write this article. I am afraid that I will miss a line. I am afraid that I will over act (which I am prone to do). I am afraid that I will forget to act. I am afraid that I will say someone else's line.
I am exchanging my spiffy, sexy boots for low heeled ordinary shoes because at practice last night I kept tripping on my way back stage. I have decided secure and comfortable trumps fabulous looking when one is 73 and clumsy at best. Furthermore, I think the universe might be telling me that this is not a good idea. Not only does my bad back (and leg) hurt . . . a LOT . . .but today I woke up with a cold. I am not sure a sniffing actor is the best actor—but I am determined to play my part—and to do the very best job I can. I am excited!
Our director, Laura Byrne, is not only talented but very gentle and affirming. She is the perfect teacher.
If you are on Island, please come. You will love it. If you are not on island, please buy it and read it. You will love it.