Saturday, February 23, 2013

creating a/broad, February 23, 2013

Back to Nothing
by Cameryn Moore

It’s funny how this column thing works out. Last week I’m doing some thinky-thinking about auxiliary events to supplement theatrical presentations—that is totally what I was thinking about, really and truly!—and this week, my head is in a whole different space. I’m back to the personal, back to “here, let me break open my rib cage and let you in”. Because things are starting to come together for Phone Whore, the Movie, and it is freaking me right the fuck out.

It’s the film adaptation of Phone Whore, so it’s not, you know, from scratch, but it’s still pretty intense. Writing the screenplay. Rounding up meals for the crew. Learning how to put on makeup so that it doesn’t look like makeup, even through the exacting eye of the camera. DECONSTRUCTING EVERY THING THAT I MANAGED TO LEARN FOR MYSELF OVER THE LAST 13 YEARS ABOUT PERFORMING AND WRITING FOR PERFORMANCE. 

Holy fuck, y’all. Once again, I know nothing.

Truth time: I’ve never known anything.

Performing just wasn’t part of my personal option set.

What I mean is, I know things now. But I didn’t start out thinking, here’s what I want to do in performance. I didn’t know that I wanted to perform, for a long, long time. I certainly never wanted to be an actress when I was growing up. It wasn’t a thing. (I wonder how many girls want that; I wonder how that percentage has changed over the decades, as the content and accessibility of TV and the Internet have changed perceptions of the spotlight and how to get there.)

Performing just wasn’t part of my personal option set. My family’s focus, if it could be called that, was on academics. My tomboyish appearance and large body, as I grew older, might have had something to do with it, too. Even if I had desperately wanted a life on stage or in front of the cameras, I would have talked myself out of it, as earnestly as everyone around me would have: I was too fat for that. And honestly, real life was challenging enough without adding drama to it. 

At most, I was dancing to give a giant “fuck you” to haters

This was true until 13 years ago, when I performed on stage for the first time, in the back row at a dance recital in my community college. I didn’t start out that semester knowing that I wanted to perform. It’s just what a lot of people at my level did in that program. I was dancing to feel fit, because I liked to move to music and turned out to have a natural aptitude for it. At most, I was dancing to give a giant “fuck you” to haters, to make myself go deeper into body acceptance, to put into actual, sweaty physical practice the intellectual concepts that I had been discussing and debating with other people in the fat-acceptance communities.

All of these reasons were good. None of them were about performance. But when I went out on that stage, five six seven eight, did my ensemble hip-hop steps, and then exited the other side, trembling and smiling, I knew I had crossed a threshold out there, of doing performance because I wanted to. That was when I began an active pursuit of different genres of performance. Remember, I was a non-traditional (i.e. OLD) student of dance at a community college—not Juilliard, in other words—and I didn’t have the money to take formal classes in other kinds of performance, so I just… learned by doing. I went out and made my opportunities. My own perception of the spotlight and my active role in it—I am making and taking this space for ME—has changed with each experience that puts me there. 

That first dance-recital number. My first solo burlesque number. My first piece of post-modern movement performance, in a corner of the café at Burning Man. The firsts come thick and fast after that: emceeing, learning lines, singing solo (in a piece of community theatre), stand-up set (I was naked for the whole thing!), solo show, storytelling set at a story slam, improv workshop (just last week, w00t!, more about that next week). I’m excited to be creating this life where I can keep having firsts, even at my advanced age. Even though my adrenal glands must surely be grinding under the strain, I’d like to think I’m starting to cultivate a taste for the new. 

So when my movie director started talking about shots and things he wanted to do, suddenly I was all, whoa

That’s all been live, though, live performance, where there is room to play with the viewer, to charm and woo and bounce off of them. There is room for me to stake out the edges of what I’m going to do, and to take up the stage all the way out to those edges. I kind of have to. In my solo stage shows, I am the only one generating the action. Yes, there are lights and sound, but in the end, it’s me. That’s a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of control, and as I have said before, I’m a control freak.

So when my movie director started talking about shots and things he wanted to do, suddenly I was all, whoa, there is going to be WAY more going on here than what I’m doing. I am just one of the elements that the director is using to make the film. In all of my performances, I have been setting the terms. I have been the subject. Now I am someone else’s object. 

I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how I feel about that.

I don’t know a damn thing.
indiegogo for Phone Whore, the Movie
For tickets to Hot Threesome click here

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