Currently listening to Paul Simon’s “American Tune” as covered by Shawn Colvin:
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest
The 2019 Mind Play Theatre Festival has come to a close. I performed my newest piece, Karaoke Visiting Hour (KVH), a memoir monologue about losing and finding one’s voice and value in an unlikely place. Producers Adam Bryan and Kelly Wolf gave us good guidance and care, we had lovely and supportive audiences, and we are all now on to whatever comes next for us.
My next whatever is r e s t. I got sick a week before the Festival and my muscle tension dysphonia kicked up in a hard fit. The irony of losing my voice right before I performed a piece about losing my voice is not lost on me. I was on vocal rest for two days prior to performing and am now back in bed with all my various remedies; the most generous of which is actual rest.
While I rest, I’ll be reflecting on the two most valuable lessons I learned from the Festival. The first came from a self-care mini-zine created by Kelly Wolf (co-producer of the Mind Play Theatre Festival and creative glory behind Open Heart Arts). I was helping her fold them during tech rehearsal and the last page kept singing to me as I prepared to go on stage for opening night with maybe 70% of my voice in place: “Celebrate where you are at Right Now.” This in the moment self-acceptance is radical. It is not easy. It takes courage. I speak from fresh experience that this celebrating business works, my friends. Which leads me to the second lesson learned.
At the end of KVH, I ask the audience to join me in stomping on the floor to show us all what creative community support can sound and feel like. I hoped for some kind of response: “If just one person stomps, I will engage with that person fully.” But when the opening night audience responded with whole-hearted expressive engagement and would just.not.stop.stomping, I was brought to joyful tears! The performers in the green room beneath the stage said they thought the ceiling might cave in. While the closing night audience was a bit smaller, they also responded enthusiastically. Yes, the nature of a mental health play festival is that the people in the room are there because they’re on board with dismantling stigma and supporting voices in search of mental health awareness. Also yes, when you tell the vulnerable and honest truth of your story and ask clearly for what you want and need, people may respond generously. I can hold both of these things at the same time.
So, when my rest comes to a close, I will continue to celebrate and write with hopeful vulnerability. I will celebrate my way into work with my dear friend Tamara Kissane of Artist Soapbox on a recording (possible audio drama?) of KVH and see what it wants to be next.
In the meantime, I’ll just be here with my remedies dreaming celebratory dreams of supportively stomping feet.