doing it for the kids

Today I am dressed up and sitting very, very still while I do my work so my hair and makeup stay exactly the same for the next ten hours. My play goes up tonight. Pay no attention to the fact that they misspelled my name. Everyone always does. I’m just gonna have to change it to two “b”s someday.

Want to know more about FronteraFest? It’s a yearly festival of twenty-five minute pieces in a contest format. The judges are people from all around Austin, both inside and outside the arts community. You never know who’s going to win. It starts with over 100 pieces, and about ten are picked for Best of the Fest. This is my fourth year participating, my fifth show, and my third play. That’s Aimee McCormick over there. She’s been a staple of Austin theatre for a while. She just moved to L.A., so if you see her, give her a wave, okay? Oh, wait, on Saturday will be my sixth show with FronteraFest, with Chuy and Jeff. We are putting on a show called “We Are So Much Better Than Everyone Else.” I’ll let you know how it goes on Sunday. As for “Pan Left/ Pan Right,” I’ll have the results Friday night. If we make Best of the Week, we perform again on Saturday. Then we wait to find out if we win Best of the Fest.

So here I am at work all dressed up looking like the intelligent playwright who’s just wacky enough to make this story. That’s what I have to go for. Wacky intellect. You try it. It’s not easy. You need a good sweater and lots of glitter.

And what comes with opening night? You guessed it, opening night jitters. I had a dream last night that one of the actors told me he couldn’t do the show tonight because he had an audition for “a much better play.” He wouldn’t do the show so he could make the audition, and I had to go onstage with a script and pretend I was this guy. When I woke up I was still angry. Then I realized that it was just a dream. But, you know, I’m still a little angry. I mean, how dare he?

Oh, and this play deals with a bucket of bottle caps at one point. I’ve had nightmares that the bucket has been stolen from my car but I don’t know until I get to the theatre. One dream the bottle caps were too sharp and when they hit the actress on the head they gash her forehead open and she bleeds all over the stage and no one likes my play. One dream the bottle caps go flying out of their bucket and hit audience members in the head, causing them to gash their foreheads open and bleed all over the seats and no one likes my play. I’ve dreamt that the stage manager forgets about our play and doesn’t include us in the line up. I’ve dreamt that for some reason the Monks decide to just do a half-hour improv structure because they know it will be funnier, but they don’t tell me and they just do it when the lights go up and the structure falls flat and no one likes my play. I’ve dreamt that everyone from our night gets picked to go on except for us because no one likes my play.

And it’s all over in twenty-five minutes, really. But all day long I won’t be able to eat. They may hate it. It’s the hardest part, sitting around waiting for the lights to go up.

Oh, God. You know what I just thought of? Tonight, after my show, during the intermission when everyone goes outside to talk about what they thought and they don’t know I’m the playwright so I can mingle around and eavesdrop like I always do to get the most honest opinion… I can’t smoke. I can’t smoke. Now I’ll really look like a spy. It can’t be like, “Oh, is that the ashtray over there?” Lean in, listen a second. “No, silly me, it’s over there.” Lean in, listen a bit. I’m going to have to figure out a new way.

Do you think that’s bad, that I listen in on what the audience thinks? My favorite example of this was three years ago when I was doing a play called “LOL(connected)” at FronteraFest. Now this play is about how people in chat rooms tend to lie about who they are and you never really know who you are talking to, and how you make things up when you won’t get caught. In the play at one point two of the actors begin to have dominatrix cybersex. The other actors are all in the same “room” listening in. It’s a comedy, and as one newspaper called it, a “cyber romp.”

Sidenote: I’ve never written, nor been in a show that wasn’t called a romp. I’m sure the review of my funeral will be a romp. It’s crazy. I’m not a zany gal… maybe I am, but I’m not trying to be. Oh, fine. When you think of me, you think of romp. I can accept that.

Anyway, I was sitting back before my show and listening to the audience chat with each other during the intermission of the Best of the Fest final performances. I overheard this conversation:

[scripty]
ELDERLY WOMAN
Are you sticking around?

MAN
Yeah, I think so, I haven’t seen all of these shows.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Well, this last one is really good.

MAN
Oh yeah?

ELDERLY WOMAN
The woman in it is really good.

MAN
How about the next one, AOL? Did you see that one?

ELDERLY WOMAN
I did.

MAN
Did you not like it?

ELDERLY WOMAN
Well… did you know that you could go on your computer and have sex?

MAN
No! I didn’t know that.

ELDERLY WOMAN
Well, apparently you can. That’s what this show is about.

MAN
Oh.

ELDERLY WOMAN
They are really loud.

MAN
Loud?

ELDERLY WOMAN
They yell.

MAN
Oh.

ELDERLY WOMAN
I don’t know, it’s not really my cup of tea, but the kids, they really seem to like it.
[/scripty]

And really, when it all comes down to it, I’m all about the kids.

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