Sunday, August 8, 2010

10 Months to Tomorrow

Our day of rest from a rigorous schedule of perfection driven exploration, self analysis and repetition seems only like a short breath, a single beat taken between lines. And in many ways, what has been a 10 month long journey is now ready to take off tomorrow. I am incredibly proud of what Hamilton's "Ma Rainey" has achieved: the three dinner theater performances in the Barn which moved the Hamilton community and did justice to the message of Martin Luther King Jr. whom we commemorated, the laughter and tears (well tears more on the side of laughter) we drew from the Union College audience, our ability and privilege to share "two different versions of the song" that August Wilson wrote with two different casts. But I think of the significance of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and what that means to us as aspiring actors, as an ensemble and as representatives of our school. Although we have reblocked the play in the last week to accommodate a smaller performance space, "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" will never be performed by us on a bigger stage than that of the Fringe. For most of us, the limelight will never burn much brighter. I know how important this trip is for so many people including me, and I have been told a lot about what the next two weeks hold for us. And yet all the speculations of my imagination as to what Edinburgh will look like, sound like, smell like, and taste like are only vague images in my mind. I find myself lost in the hype of what we are about to accomplish. It is a surreal feeling to know that I am leaving the country tomorrow with part of me planning for the experience of a life time, and the other part still unconvinced that there is going to be a plane waiting for me at the airport, that the cast is not still sitting in KJ 104 running through lines while I daydream about what it will be like to be on stage as Irvin for the first time. To think that there was a point when I had to read the lines to hear the story August Wilson so brilliantly wrote. Now his words flow out as naturally as breaths of air. We have all been involved with some form of theater, but probably none of us has been with a play for so long. And in 10 months the play has not been perfected or mastered because there is always something new to be discovered about the characters or their actions right up to the delivery of the last line of the final performance. But "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" has become a part of us. It is a source of countless memories. It is responsible for our personal growth as both actors and people. Its characters have crawled out of our personalities and our hearts and our minds. We have bonded in ways that family and friends have not. And we have certainly spent enough time together to call ourselves a family! And for every bit of success and glory that we find individually in Scotland, we will have found so much more from one another. As an ensemble we have translated ourselves through the voices of Levee, Cutler, Toledo and Slow Drag, Ma, Sylvester and Dussie Mae, Irvin, Sturdyvant and the Police Officer. When I heard the news back in February that there was a possibility we would be going to Edinburgh, I began to prepare because there was no doubt in my mind it would happen. Our ensemble was ready to take on the world (literally) and we were blessed to be in an environment where so many people wanted to support us on our journey. So when I lay awake for the rest of the night and remain awake for the duration of our plane flight it will be because a dream has become a reality. "Because I know [we've] got [our] time coming."

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