Saturday, January 26, 2013

creating a/broad, January 26, 2013

Coming Home
by Cameryn Moore

I had a workshop reading of my newest play last Wednesday night. It was hard and weird and good, and I am going to write about that more next week after I’ve had time to sit with feedback and scribble all over my script and figure out how this work might be an amazing transition to an area of writing and performance that I am super excited and/or terrified to explore (which one depends on how much coffee I’ve had the day that you ask me). That’s going to be a good post.

What I want to write about this week is what came the day after my reading, when I drove off to Toronto to present Phone Whore as one of the closing events for the Sexual Awareness Week at the University of Toronto. It was an interesting contrast to the night before, a strange experience containing both of these experiences in one 24-hour period.

The reading was new work, fictional work, not strongly graphic, presented to “the public” at a stage that I have never exposed to public view before. Phone Whore, on the other hand, is the first solo show I ever wrote. It’s based strongly on my real life, there’s a lot of graphic language and content in it, and I’ve performed it all over the fucking place, at least 130 times, at last count.

My new work takes me out into really uncomfortable and unknown territory

No surprise: Phone Whore felt like coming home. My new work takes me out into really uncomfortable and unknown territory, both textually and performatively, so doing Phone Whore right after was SUCH A RELIEF. I mean, yes, I was a little jittery during the first five minutes of the show, getting back into the script, because I hadn’t performed it since November—two months, maybe—and I ended up performing it in a lecture hall that did not have any performance lights and one of the lecterns was bolted to the floor. Not an ideal theatre environment, in other words.

But if my hands were trembling a little the first time I picked up the first props, my fingers quickly remembered the feel of the phone, the tattered notebook, the coffee cup. I settled easily back into my Throne of Truth (that’s what I call my portable, packable easy chair), and found the sightlines that are so important in performing that show. And afterward, during the talk-back segment, when I answered questions and talked about what made me do this show, I got to settle back into my core.

My compass for whatever this quality is—I don’t even know what to call it—it homes true.

It’s not why I wrote Phone Whore, it’s not what I set out to do when I first started touring it, but talking about authentic, real sexual experiences… that ended up being one of my guiding creative principles. It’s present in my new show as well, I realized this week, as I tried to explain what the new show is about. It’s there, in more subtle ways, and that feels good. When I’m feeling uncertain about that work, I know that I can go back to Phone Whore, my experience of performing that, and say, yes, I actually am competent and compassionate, with myself and others, and I can bring that to my portrayal of even fictional characters. It’s still there, it will always be there. My compass for whatever this quality is—I don’t even know what to call it—it homes true. I can trust myself to bring it to every performance I do.

Conversely, my experience of performing Phone Whore on Thursday, and rediscovering my strength in it, was a timely reminder that I am capable of triumphing over my own fears. Because at one point, you know, doing Phone Whore in front of a crowd was absolutely terrifying, every minute of it, for lots of different reasons: I was new to solo performing. I was saying dirty, dirty words and creating terrible scenes in front of strangers. I micro-analyzed the way that I was holding my coffee cup. I wasn’t used to smoking the fake cigarette and kept inhaling the powder on accident. I could hear people squirming in their seats; I wasn’t expecting that and it freaked me right the fuck out. I had to jump up and down and swing my arms before going on, even though Phone Whore isn’t a physically challenging play at all, just to MAKE MYSELF BREATHE.

I remember this, as if it was a dream, because now, none of that is the case. I got through the terror and the prop angst, I lived through the discomfort of really pushing myself, and over time, over the last 2.5 years, have moved into the space where that whole formerly terrifying mess now feels like home. If I did that once with Phone Whore—hell, if that process is happening again with the two subsequent shows in the trilogy—then I can trust that it will happen again with the new show. 

I can trust that I have room in my muscle memory for new blocking sequences, because I have done that before. I know that memorizing lines will happen just fine (it can hardly be worse than memorizing the multiple tracks of my choose-your-own adventure show!). I know that anything uncomfortable I have to say is only uncomfortable because I am scared, not because of something essential located in the words. 

I start out doing each show in fear, and I can trust that each one will bring me home. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. Please read our guidelines for posting comments.