Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Notes from the Field (II)

“Wouldn’t You Rather…”
Notes from the Field- Summer 2007

The other day, as I sat in Barnes and Noble, trying once again, to master the subjunctive verbs of the French language, with my VERY patient ami, Patrick; an actor, who I had worked with a LONG time ago, stopped by our table. He hadn’t seen me in ages, but I had seen him – on more “Law and Orders” than I could count on all my fingers, toes, teeth, and quite possibly hairs. On commercials that played daily on every channel, and in a string of Broadway shows, one of which had earned him a TONY nomination.

We chatted about our spouses, my bad French, and his latest Broadway show. As my one time cast mate hugged me, and walked away, I could see the question in Patrick’s eyes. “Est-ce que tu veux un carriere comme ton ami, Julie? Don’t you want a career like your friend’s, Julie?”

For once, finding the words in French was easy. Non!

Now before you all go,”AAAAAH!!! Isn’t that great!! Someone COMPLETELY satisfied with their life choices!!” Let me say this: I wouldn’t turn down a TV show, commercial, and most especially a Broadway show. The fun, paychecks, and I’ll say it “stature” of it all is sometimes really tempting after a day of performing in a “gymatorium” for 300 second graders hyped up after lunch. And I know full well that if I were doing eight shows a week of “Spamalot” instead of three shows a day at PS 1543398765, my parents wouldn’t mumble, “See, we KNEW she’d never make it in showbiz!!”

But, and this is a big BUT (one T) – even with all that, the answer would still be, “J’aime ma vie! I love my life as a storyteller!”

I love finding a tale that makes me think, laugh, or long for a plane ticket to the country where it’s from. When I search for different versions of this new beloved story, the thrill of the hunt fills me! Visualizing the people, places, and events of a tale, happily puts my imagination on a virtual treadmill; and I happily jog away. Feeling the characters inhabit my body and voice is like being in a magical fantasy movie, where all the characters and special effects are produced by ME! And, of course, there is the best part – the joyous experience of sharing a story with an audience!

While it is true that every live performance is different and unique – in storytelling, it is especially so. No “fourth wall” separates me from the people who sit before me; their presence is the last, best, and most important part of any story I share. The audience informs me of the style, pace, and sometimes the wording of my story. To quote from a movie that I, personally, found WAY too sappy (although I did think the kid was awful cute!), “They complete me.”

And what a divine group my audiences have been! From inner city teens, who first eye me with contempt and boredom, but who are leaning in by the performance’s end. To the pre-schoolers who mirror my every move. To the senior citizens, smiling, all the while recalling the many stories they’re heard in their long, rich lives. As a storyteller, I truly have something for everyone.

And then there’s the simplicity of it! No sets, no costumes, no disco balls – just me. Me, using all that I am, to get a story across. I cannot tell you the satisfaction I find in watching a group “see” the story, knowing full well that the only thing they are actually viewing, is 5’2” of ME!

So, Patrick, Mom, Dad, and anyone else out there who thinks, “Poor Julie!” when they learn that the bulk of my audiences members go to bed at the same time that the curtain rises on my friend’s Broadway show. Think again.

I get to create worlds, with only my body and voice. I get to see audiences from ages 4 – 100. I get to share countries and cultures with children who have never even heard of them. I get to keep alive an art form that has been around for centuries. I get to be a storyteller!!!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chère Julie, Je ne penserais jamais, "pauvre Julie;" au contraire, tu as de la chance, et, en plus, nous aussi, nous avons de la chance de pouvoir te connaître. Tu es formidable, pleine de talent.