|This photo was taken after our first dress rehearsal.|
The drive to Indy is quiet except for the sound of the rain on the rooftop of my Jeep. I turn on the radio. I turn off the radio. I cannot concentrate on the news or even listen to the music, as the only words in my head are those from my Mary Shelley script. The rain is good, I think. The rain matches the mood of that eventful night she began “Frankenstein.” Yes, it is definitely a dark and stormy day.
I park at Ellen’s where I will be staying for the next eleven days and haul my gear up to my small room under the eaves. This has been my room for over twenty years. Once, when Ellen’s parents were still living, I complained that my mattress was a bit lumpy. For Christmas, I received a new mattress and a quilt.
The rain is heavy as I head out to the Fringe. Dodging the drops, I duck into my theatre, my other home for the week. It is a black box theatre, built just for the Fringe. My guess is that it seats 80 or so folks. I meet Maleah, the technician for this theatre, Fire House Museum Theatre. Maleah is young, and has great ideas for the show. As she looks over the script, she begins to take notes. Her light board is an antique, she says, but a good experience. Maleah plans to major in theatre lighting in college. I question her a few times, “Do you think this is too much? Are you sure you can do this?” She is not a bit shy on her confidence. My two hours fly by, and I head out to the beer tent for the preview. I have one minute to promote my show. One minute. I have worked for months and months. One minute. I give it my best shot, receive the applause from a beer-happy audience and take a bow.
I meet a few friends, but then drive back via the grocery to stock up for the week. I know there will be dinners out after every show, but breakfast and lunch will be healthy choices in Ellen’s kitchen. The house is filling up with other artists. Somewhat like an artist colony, perhaps.
By noon on Thursday, Jacob arrives. I chat about our show and Maleah, and the excitement builds. We are one of the first 12 shows to begin the Fringe at 6:00. We haul out our props, take a last look at our scripts, change clothes, and begin the deep breathing.
This opening night feeling is always the same. I ask myself why I do this…I question my own sanity to put myself through this, and often wish I were just back home weeding my garden in Angola. It is at this moment I miss home. It is also at this moment that I would not really trade places. This is where I must be.
I love that two artsy folks from Angola will begin the Indy Fringe. My heart is beating so fast that I take deep breaths. The show is introduced, the stage goes dark, and we take our place. Maleah has impeccable timing and ideas, the lights go on, and we are off into the dark world of theatre where nothing else in the world matters.
An hour of talking speeds by as if only seconds, and the show is over. We change, put away our props, and meet other theatre folks for dinner. The conversation flows like wine. Other folks in the restaurant pop over to tell us they really liked our show and will tell their friends. Ah, yes, that is the best advertising! We also pass out our mass printed Fringe cards inviting folks to our show. Payment for these shows is only by attendance!
Back at Ellen’s we gather for a late night discussion. The rain continues to pour down, but I am not daunted by weather. I want to talk shop. Theatre. Storytelling. Music. Art.
Day one of the Fringe is over, ten more to go. Five more shows for us, and in between shows, there are more shows. Sixty-three other shows for us to see, should we choose. Performer badges allow us the freedom of sitting in any audience we choose. There will be rain. There will be old and new friendships. There will be late nights for discussions about theatre and art.
And there will be five more shows of Mary and Her Monsters!