How do you give when you have nothing to give? How do you help others when you are in need of help yourself? Money doesn’t make the person but it takes money to help those who are sick or have fallen on hard times. But how do you give when you’re barely surviving? Give of yourself. I found a way to give through theatre.
In 2009 I was in Jackson’s first production of The Vagina Monologues. This production was a collaborative effort between The Jackson Free Press and Fondren Theatre Workshop. As the show came to a close on the second night it really hit me that I was playing a part in helping women of domestic violence. Me. I remember the tears streaming down my face as I truly embraced the idea that I had something to give, that I was able to help.
Theatre serves many purposes. It keeps art in the community. It helps actors, writers, musicians hone their craft. Theatre is also a way to send messages that might otherwise be offensive delivered face to face.
In 2008 I played the role of a yellow Transylvanian in Fondren Theatre Workshop’s production of Rocky Horror. This was my first time being in a play where I had no speaking part. It was also my first musical. This production was a fundraiser for HeARTS Against AIDS. I met a lot of wonderful people on the set. Many were writers, musicians and of course actors. Also, on the set of Rocky Horror is where I got a real good idea of what I was supposed to be doing as a writer and actor. I would listen to cast members chatting about their projects. I did projects as well but I did everything one at a time. So, I would apply for a grant then wait on the response before applying to anything else.
In 209 I played the role of Duchess in HATS. This was a great role. I remember being so intimidated at the audition. I knew I had no chance in hell of getting a part in this show. A LOT of talented people auditioned for that show.
When I found out I was in the show I went through the house dancing and singing like a fool. A few days later I got the script and was once again intimidated. I had never done solo parts like this before. Up until then all of my singing was done in my house with all of the doors and windows locked or in church. As a matter of fact, growing up I couldn’t sing. I’d never had any formal lessons. At some point it just came. One of the most important things I learned while rehearseing for HATS was to let go and really ge into the moment.
HATS was so much fun and I made some wonderful new friends but the thing I’ll never forget is the faces of the people who came to me after the show. It wasn’t that they were just proud, it was as if they’d been touched in some way by what I’d done.
I’ve always thought of giving as something that involved a fat check and a pen but over time I’ve come to realize that giving is defined by you. Giving touches the heart.
Okay, let’s get out there and do some touching, people!
Let’s talk again next week.