What the f*ck was I thinking?!
Seriously. What sort of next level idiot am I?!
I have not been in this show in like 8 years. I have not even seen or read these plays before!
And I volunteered to do 4 hours of performance?
What the SH!T was I thinking?
[INSERT SCREAMING HERE!]
# Oh. Damn. That was my line.
I have not had to memorize a line in years. Also, it's one thing to be in the show and have to learn a few new plays every week. It's another to have to play catch up on 120 plays and remembering which ones I'm in and which ones I'm not. I'm not even dealing with props yet. Do I even know which props I need? Wait, which props do I need to make? Buy? Borrow? Oh! And sound queues! Holy crap! I used to have that song, where did it go? Am I the only one who started writing easy to memorize plays? Jeebus!
# Oh wow, Omar 2006 Edition, you were in a bad place
The thing about my time in TML... See the thing is... Well... Let's start with the justification... When we talk about what's "missing" from the show, it's an important question. To me, it isn't just a matter of what the current show is missing. It is a question of what is Too Much Light as a whole missing in its history. So I tell myself to read, watch, ask about all the plays I can. What hasn't been written about because that is what is actually missing.
There was a story (fiction or non-fiction, I have no idea) I was told a million years ago about making oneself unique as artist. Apparently there was a painter who realized that he wasn't the greatest painter in the world; however, he realized that he could paint windmills better than anyone else. So he became the windmill painter. When you needed a windmill painted, he was your guy. This isn't a story about windmills. This is a story about seeing one's art as a job; seeing your artist self as a brand. What can you as artist, as brand, offer better than anyone else. In his case, it was windmills.
Well, to be honest, I'm not sure what I can do better than everyone else. I do, however, know what I can do that many others cannot. Rather, I know what I don't need. I don't need to be liked by the audience. Or rather, I am I unafraid of being disliked if that's what needed.
You know what TML has? It has a lot of heroes. You see it in the audience's eyes as they watch the performers. You see it the media (NYTheatre People of the Year). You see it in comments left on message boards. You see it when a fan has a play title tatooed on his body.
You know what TML is missing? Villains.
You know what I can write? I can write plays that vilify myself. When I was young about 16 or 17. I started reading Jean Genet. There is something he wrote, or at least I think he wrote, which went something like "I write to incriminate myself." I can't find it on Google and all that research I did over half a lifetime ago is back in the primary sources. So I'm not sure of the exact quote; however, you see that theme throughout Genet's work. You see a man who is confessing his own sins for the world to see--to judge--and--perhaps if he is very, very lucky--to forgive.
So I wrote a lot of plays (not all) that delved into the depths of my own psyche. Plays that took my personal demons and made them into my art. What I didn't do--what most confessional poets and other writers do--I didn't ask for forgiveness. I presented the worst aspects of myself as a representative of humanity and allowed the audience to judge me. In essence, I was writing to condemn myself.
Reading some of those plays now, well, it's reading your teen-aged diary. It's dark and raw and full of honesty I'd forgotten. It's scary and frightening. And--reading it now--eight years alter, well, I feel bad for the cast at the time. They really must have wondered what to do with me and my insanity. Sorry, everyone.
Oh, yeah, have I ever told you I get stage fright? It doesn't happen all the time, but when it does, man, is it fierce. Do a search for stage fright and you can find any number of professionals who have to manage it. Every so often you come across a performer who had to cancel events due to it. Thankfully, I don't suffer from it that badly. But there was a time I had a gig (not TML) where--just before I went on--I could feel the blood drain from my arms and legs; and I didn't know if I'd be able to stand.
# So Yeah
Why do we do this to ourselves? By we, I mean artists. By this, I mean put our work and our selves out there in the world. Man, if only there was a single reason. I think part of it can be about creating something beautiful. I think part of it is a need to communicate. I think part of it is that art--expression--is what keeps us sane. And maybe--hopefully--our audience--be it artists, non-artists, and/or ourselves--will actually enjoy it.
NEXT PRODUCTION JOURNAL: So You Think You Can Neo?