I met my husband for the first time on-stage. If you’ve been around the studio for any length of time, you already know this. He had bleach-blonde tips that would make 90’s J-Timberlake envious, shorts full of holes and a t-shirt that read “Bikini Contest Judge.”
I was in love.
The play was Dreamer Examines His Pillow by John Patrick Shanley. If you’ve never read Dreamer Examines His Pillow, I think you should. It’s a magnificent play. It doesn’t get as much love as Doubt. But I love it. It’s a really weird play, and it’s like a long lover’s argument with a side of daddy issues, but it’s also kind of about how short life is and how primal our motivations are ultimately. For the patient theater-goer, the third act is a huge pay-off.
There’s this ending monologue. And every time I hear it, it undoes me. (I’m cutting out some pieces to preserve some of the surprises in the ending of the script. In the unlikely event that John Patrick Shanley ever reads this blog, I’m sorry John Patrick. Also “HI, JOHN PATRICK and I LOVE YOU like a 60’s teenager loves the Beetles and her flat iron.”)
Dreamer Examines His Pillow
Act 3. An excerpt.
Dad: I cut an cut into myself an then one night I had dream, and I hit white bone. An I looked at my pillow, where I’d dreamed that dream, I looked at that hole where my head had been dreaming, and I said No more.
Tommy: No more.
Donna: No more.
Dad: BUT I WAS WRONG.
Donna & Tommy: HUH?
Dad: You can’t stop. Once you step off the edge, you’re gone. Once your head’s been in that place, you can’t ever take it out..It’s never the right time, and it’s really horrifying ta everybody, like car accident ya see coming. But, there is this problem of time an tide, of morality, of the woman only having so many years in which she can conceive…BEGIN. BEGIN. Son. Daughter. Self. Stranger. BEGIN. (To the audience) BEGIN.
It made me cry the first time I read it, and it makes me cry to type it again for you now.
There is never a right time for anything.
My husband and I decided to start a business 9 years ago, combining our passion for acting and coaching. I was scared.
“I’m not ready.”
There is never the right time for anything. When I became pregnant with my son Jack, in every way the answer to my prayers, some part of me still said “I’m not ready.” Now I know that every great adventure begins this way. With a strain of fear, relentlessly chanting “I’m not ready, I’m not ready.”
To start my own business. To buy a house. To write the song. To say the hard thing. To fail. To attempt, to loosen, to release control and just begin.
You may never feel ready to start taking the kind of risks acting requires. And it is a risk. (I have such respect for performers of all makes and models, but I have a particular and deep kind of affection for actors and singers. Those brave few who say to the world “my actual, physical body is my instrument. I make music with it. I’ve mastered it, I can manipulate it, I trust it, I preserve it, I adore it. I believe in it.”)
If the impulse to try is in you, know this: The fear never goes away. It just gets softer and softer as you starve it.
And you starve it by starting.
Start anywhere. Pick up a book. Crack a script. Take a class. Just start.
“BEGIN. BEGIN. Son. Daughter. Self. Stranger. BEGIN.”