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Life in the Theatre: My latest project, “All I Ever Wanted”

On Friday, April 22, I will be opening my next theatrical run – a world premiere play called “All I Ever Wanted“. If you’re in the Seattle area, please consider joining us – we’ll be performing Fri/Sat/Sun (excluding Easter) through May 8th. All performances are in TPS Theatre 4, which is on the 4th floor of the Seattle Center House.

It’s a great honor and challenge to get the chance to originate a character (to perform a role in a premiere production). Especially for me, in this role – it’s a stretch. I play a married Midwestern woman 10 years my elder, and the mother of an 18-year old son… not concepts that I have wells of experience to draw from! A fun challenge, but definitely a challenge. Jeanne, who is almost universally referred to as Mom throughout the show, goes through a difficult emotional journey over the course of the play – and at times lashes out at things beyond her control in unexpected ways. The show itself deals with issues like teen pregnancy and sexuality.

In addition, 25% of all proceeds will be going to support Lambert House, a Seattle-area nonprofit working to provide support to local LGBTQ youth – especially important now given some of the events in the past year or two.

Why do I do it?

While I regularly participate in improv performances, participation in a scripted show or musical is an entirely different journey. It’s like a short-term marriage to another group of people; you’ll see them almost daily for multiple hours. I’m often asked why I’m willing to make a 3-5 hour commitment 4-6 days a week while working a full-time job. The easy answer is, “I must be crazy”, but in fact I think my acting helps keep me solidly on the side of sanity.

Especially in times of emotional turmoil or stress, I am thankful for the opportunity to lose myself in someone else. I’m one of those people whose brains never really shut up – but I CAN distract my brain by forcing it to think like my character. Then my worries disappear, for a time. It’s also a chance to impact people on a different level than my day job, to improve my skills, and to meet new people. Plus, it’s (usually) fun. I taught some improv games to my cast for this show, and they participate with such boundless energy and enthusiasm that it’s impossible not to start laughing, no matter how crappy your day was. (I’ll post separately about how improv has shaped my life.)

I actually tried giving up acting twice – once in high school, and once after graduating college and moving to California to work in games. Each time, however, acting found me again. If it’s in your blood, it’s hard to avoid, especially when you end up in a great theatre town like Seattle. At this point I would never give it up completely – I’ve come to accept that it’s too embedded in my DNA. Yet it’s also not my goal to “run away and be in pictures” – while I might not turn down a single opportunity, technology is also in my DNA and I would be absolutely restless without a job like my current one at Microsoft to keep my brain firing on all cylinders. For me, it’s all about finding the balance.

Of course, it’s not always a perfect journey – for example, my current show was written to require live video projection, and technical challenges have marred many late rehearsals – but in the end, connecting with an audience and expressing another side of yourself is worth the sweat and tears.

BONUS: If you come to the show, laugh inwardly knowing that the conversation heart handed to me in the first act is from a bag of Twilight conversation hearts, and thus probably says something like “La Push” or “Team Edward”. Not laughing there? THAT is acting.

Discussion

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One Comment

  1. Melissa

    Hi Cheryl,
    I’d love to go watch this one as well!

    It was interesting to read the “why you do it” part. I recently got into DJing myself (an old passion of mine). It’s a very time consuming hobby but it actually helps keep my life balanced and not let work take all the space there is. The same way you like getting lost in someone else, I like getting lost in the music and taking people (as well as myself) through an emotional journey.

    All the best to you with your new play!

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