I was thinking about the time I auditioned for this theater group when I was 18. When I found out where the audition was, I said to myself oh no, I do not want to travel 2 hours a day there and back. I went any way but on my way there. I really didn’t think too much about how the audition would go or anything.
My teacher told me that it was a small theater group so I figured, ok, I’ll go but I know they are not going to pick me. I was going through so much at the time, that I didn’t have time to process anything. I didn’t know if I wanted to process anything as I was feeling so numb and just wanted to feel another feeling. Think another thought.
So when I got off the train and I was looking for FACES, it really made me not want to go because of where it was located. I thought about rush hour in NYC, getting home late after school when it got dark. So when I finally arrived, I realized this was a theater group I’d seen when I was a child that I wanted to be a part of 10 years prior. I knew the content they dealt with and I said to myself I really don’t want to be here.
I felt like the issues they addressed, that they would be delving into my personal life. Whether it was something I went through or someone I knew that went through it and I just didn’t want to go there. When I arrived I was the only one there. I said to myself, where is everybody? Then 3 other girls showed up and so did the other improv actors.
So they sat me and the other 3 girls down, explained who they were and what they did. They got up and performed for us, to give us an example to follow. Then they said its time to get up and audition and show us what you got. They performed with us and it was fun since we could improv. I thought ok, cool I can do this. Then it got deep. They gave us a skit about a break up and just told us to go there.
I said internally oh shit! I felt the butterflies in my stomach. I took a breath and was like ok I can do this. So the other actor I was performing with, we just fed off of each other energy. During my audition, It got really intense. I forgot there were other people in the room. As we were moving around the room. I saw the look on everybody’s face when we got back in front of them.
They were staring, they got drawn in. I saw one of the other actress shaking her head yes, giving me this really intense look. Everything that I was going through and felt in that moment. I poured into that scene. It was therapeutic in a way. When I said my last lines which ended the scene. The room was quiet. I thought the scene would continue but it didn’t.
They thanked me and the other girls and said that they would be in touch. As me and the other girls left. The other 3 girls, kept telling me how good I was and where did I learn to act like that. I never took lessons. I told them I never took lessons. I said to them we were all good. They kept saying, no, you were really good, they are going to pick you. I said to them, who knows they might ask all of us back.
I wasn’t comfortable with the spotlight being on me at all. I felt really exposed. I felt really good about the audition but this was only my third one. The other theater groups I auditioned for, which I got positive feedback from, they were close to me but they weren’t funding. I wished in the back of my head they were, because one of the auditions was so much fun, it lasted 3 hours.
The guy that was auditioning with me, we vibed off of each other really well. When we left, we hugged and wanted that part so bad. The program directors really loved us and they just let us have fun and play. When I parted with the other girls at FACES, we wished each other luck and went on our way. I knew in the back of my mind. I gave a really good audition. I was proud of myself.
But still, the distance turned me off. I said to myself, I hope they don’t pick me. I know…strange. Like I said it was the distance. So when I arrived home. I heard the phone ringing. The machine picked up and it was my teacher screaming in the phone. I picked up the phone and all she kept yelling was FACES loved you. They want you. They loved your performance they want you there on Monday. My teacher was so happy for me. She was more happy for me than I was.
You would have thought I hit the lotto by the way she was screaming. In a way I did. I just didn’t know it. I didn’t have time to process what would be taking place next. I didn’t know that God had led me to this place, so that I could do some internal healing. When I observed, behind the scenes their performances, I said to myself, I can’t get up there on that stage. I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.
Everybody in the world is going to know, what me and my family went through. Everybody is going to know I lost my mother and feel sorry for me. And I didn’t want anybody’s pity. What I was feeling was shame, guilt and fear. When I thought about, no one would know. It’s not like they knew me or my family. The first few days I was there I spoke to the theater director.
I explained to her that I wasn’t comfortable with these domestic violence skits. When I saw these two actors perform it. I was like oh shit, this man sounded exactly like my father. I felt like if I performed that scene that I would do to my father what he did to my mother. There was no way in hell, I was going to perform that scene. She understood, as they would not have a performer get on stage and have flashbacks.
They were careful with traumatic experiences. So pretty much for the next few months I played it safe. Not really doing anything intense. I wasn’t really giving it my all. I just thought if I showed up that was enough. I didn’t want to put in the work and be that vulnerable. All I wanted was my 3 credits that I needed to graduate high school so I could be on my way.
So much was going on, I left my father’s house and I was just trying to take care of myself during my tenure at FACES. When the semester was ending, the program director sat me down and said. I have to perform. That if I didn’t perform. I wasn’t going to graduate. It was my turn to perform for the program. I remember sitting in that chair, feeling like I was going to walk out. My stomach started turning.
The director told me to pick a scene. I chose this piece called “Hear No Evil” The other two girls, did “Speak No Evil and See No Evil.” I knew this scene all to well as I’ve seen them perform it so many times. I just had no idea how I was going to get up there and say those words. I thought I was going to have a break down on stage.
The day of my performance I was happy that it was close by, at this university. Ironically it was at the university I auditioned for but they weren’t sponsoring. So when my teacher from the program arrived and all the other students that were in the program got there. I got nervous. What made me even more nervous is when the college students arrived and the auditorium was full.
The other two girls and I, were waiting in the hall until it was time for us to perform. When it was showtime I had to sit down in the middle chair. The girl to the left of me said her monologue and when she finished I knew I was next. I prayed for strength to say those words. I took my hands off my ears and opened my eyes and just went for it. When I said my lines and looked out into the audience.
Everyone was quiet and staring at me. So I looked over at my best friend, the director and my teacher, then back at the audience and I just continued to delivered my lines. When I finished and put my hands back over my ears and closed my eyes, it was time for the next girl to say her monologue. After the performance was over everyone clapped. I was relieved it was over. I just wanted to get off the stage, lol.
Before we left, the audience had questions so we stayed for Q&A. One of the college students had a question and asked how do we prepare for a scene like that? I took the question. My response was “it was very difficult for me to get up here and say those lines as I know women who have been in a domestic violence relationship and I heard those words uttered before. I said I didn’t know if I could do it.
If I could go there. The whole time I’m sitting here. I’m thinking I have to say this. I was thinking what woman in her right mind says these things, makes excuses and blames herself for being abused. But you have women out here who do that. I had to watch my mother go through that and I told my director. I can’t get up here and do this but I’m glad I did. Because it opens up the dialogue.
So many times we stay silent when it comes to domestic violence, feeling ashamed and the problem is not going to go away by being silent. Every day and every 3 seconds a woman is being abused by her boyfriend or husband and some of them don’t even make it out. Some women even die at the hands of their abuser. So this performance is very much-needed even though it’s a vessel through art.”
I knew in that moment, that God wanted me to be in that theater group. He wanted me to be a voice and he wanted to use me as a vessel. I remember feeling very content. Remembering what it was like to be on stage before I lost my mom. That live interaction with the audience, I missed that when I was younger. Whenever I was performing or had a show. I would look to my right and my mother was grinning from ear to ear.
Her love and support was my strength and I didn’t have that once she transcended. I guess I thought I couldn’t do it without her cheering me on. But she was there with me the whole time. Every time I wanted something that I didn’t get. God had something better for me. Some place he was trying to lead me to, because someone somewhere needed to hear what I had to say.
No matter how uncomfortable I was, I simply needed to surrender to his will. The thing about life is, no matter which road you take. You will end up where you need to be. God will lead you there and he will be there. When I said my lines, I felt like I had an angel around me comforting me. The other theater groups, that I wanted but they weren’t sponsoring, that’s because that wasn’t where I was supposed to be. The experience would not have been the same.
I would not have met the same people. I wouldn’t have been begun my own journey when it came to feeling, dealing and healing. Creative fields can be a great platform when it comes to reaching others on a massive scale. Being in the spotlight in any way is not something I welcome, as I am more of a behind the scenes kind of person but if that’s really where God wants me to be. I guess at some point I have to stop fighting it, lol. I guess I have no choice but to submit to his will.