Some passions build slowly, interest growing over time. Some, like my ongoing infatuation with the theatre, burst into being more or less instantaneously. All it took was one viewing of the RENT movie, and I was hooked for life. When the time came when I ought to have been bat-mitzvahed, I asked my parents if I could instead take a trip to New York City to see RENT live on stage instead. Partially because a vacation was less effort to plan than a blow-out party, they agreed. I have still never been formally initiated as a Jewish woman; and as much as I have ever had a religion, mine is still the religion of the stage. It wasn’t long before I wanted to see what it was like on the other side of the curtains, despite the fact that acting was a bit of an odd choice for me.
I’d been diagnosed with sensory integration disorder when I was three, and Asperger’s Syndrome when I was nine. It still feels weird to talk about any of this publicly, since I’m so unused to talking about it in any sense whatsoever, but apparently it is the 21st century and neurodiversity is a real thing that people talk about now or something and me being open about these things is probably Important in some broader cultural manner and really I should just get over myself and go back to talking about theatre damnit.
I stumbled upon a flyer for Bob Carter’s Actor’s Workshop and Repertory Company’s annual summer acting camp, and the rest was history. And maybe this was nothing but timing and I would have matured either way, but, in a very real way, it feels as if my life is divided into before I found the theatre and after. I even catch myself wondering how much of my ability to “perform” as a semi-functional neurotypical I owe to those days. After all, many of our “acting” exercises would not have been out of place in a more conventional social skills class or autism therapy group.
In rehearsal, we were taught to pay attention to our body language and to that of our fellow actors, to speak as clearly as possible and at a correct, audible volume. In improv, we learned the importance of agreeing with our partner if at all possible and of maintaining a shared goal. Putting one’s self in a character’s shoes is the basis of empathy; to stand in front of a mirror imagining yourself into someone else is, it turns out, a stepping-stone to more fully seeing your peers–and yourself.
The insanity and adventures that ensued during my acting years could quite literally fill a whole book, which I know because I’ve actually written that book and am actively seeking publication! However, I gradually realized I was far more comfortable and effective on-page than onstage. I then went on to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Writing at Florida Atlantic University, my thesis project being a psychologically infused theatre script called Tell Me I’m Pretty, and went on to get my MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence. I am currently working as a social media specialist, but I still dabble in playwriting and voraciously consume as much live theatre as I can get my hands on. The idea of starting a theatre blog was something I was kicking around a bit while I was living in New York, but it may be an even better idea now that I’ve moved back to South Florida; there is so much amazing theatre happening here, and far fewer people talking about it! I also may eventually branch out into covering some personal stuff and some non-theatre art stuff–for in the end, isn’t all the world but a stage?