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Upon Returning to the Stage.

“Would you like to be in Follies?” Jp’s voice on the phone asked me.  Would I?  Yes.  A resounding YES.  After six years it was time to take that step back into the scary waters of theatrical rehearsals, directors, creating material and testing it out on fellow actor/creators.

Almost as soon as the “yes” slipped between my lips the doubts began to creep out of their crevices where they’d been safely hiding away for years.  Six to be exact.

Six years ago I left Touchstone Theatre feeling burned out and needing different green pastures to graze in for awhile.  I’d dabbled in theatrical types of projects in the ensuing years, but this invite, this was for real.  Touchstone was ready for me to come back.  Was I?

My fears were quickly relieved at the first rehearsal.  Fortunately, the director, Jp Jordan, is a fun-loving, kindly dictator (the best kind of director has to be a bit of a dictator) who creates a playful atmosphere in which to create.  I felt like an old-timer.  I felt old.  Surrounded by actors of varying experience and training I wasn’t quite sure how I fit.  A BA in “Communication Arts” back in ’85 somehow doesn’t seem to hold a candle to folks coming out of serious actor-training programs, French movement schools, MFA’s and the like.

On the other hand, age and experience are their own “intensive training” program.  My age and the intervening years were giving me a fresh perspective on things.  I can clown, not because I went to school for clowning, but because in those earlier years at Touchstone I worked with trained clowns, who coached and mentored me.  I watched Cora Hook’s angel on stage every Follies and marveled.  “Watch and learn,” are important mottoes in theater.

So, last night we opened this year’s version of Touchstone Theatre’s “Christmas City Follies.”  My clown, Little Red, is back on the stage…still trying to find something to give her a sense of hope during the holidays.  A new character, Agnes Chundlebatch, emerged in one of the very first rehearsals. [ NOTE:  an easy way into new character development is to grab some kind of costume that strikes your fancy and see who the character is that emerges.  ]  I get to channel what-ever inner “diva” I might have for the oldest pajama sister on earth’s grand reunion tour.  It’s a blast.  It’s a challenge.  It’s fun and frolic and feels so very, very, very good to realize that it is possible to be part of an endeavor which lightens the moods of an audience.  The sound of an audience laughing is one of the greatest gifts I can be given this year.