There’s an old Buddhist saying that goes, “You have to lose yourself to find your Self.”
The truth is, during high school, I had no idea who “I” was, but I did know what I loved – theater. Well, ok, theater and tennis. But, as I was never any good at tennis – I was always the kid that got sent to the practice wall if the courts were all taken at practice that day – I was left with theater to lose myself (and find my Self) in. Theater also proved to give me a significant boost in the self-esteem department (which I needed after tennis practice). Thanks to my drama teacher, Mrs. Beale, and the Musical Theater Director, Mrs. Fitzgerald, and the good old Flagler Auditorium, I could be a star. Or, at least a person with a legitimate talent that was nurtured and supported and – sometimes, even – rewarded.
I remember my eleventh grade year, the school play was “Fiddler on the Roof.” I heard it through the grapevine that Mrs. Beale and Mrs. Fitz had their sights on me to play Yenta – the Matchmaker! What a role! And what an honor! I was so touched to find out they had that much faith in me as an actor! What they didn’t fully realize was that I couldn’t sing a lick. They found it out pretty quick, though, when I bombed the part of my audition when Mrs. Fitz sprang “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on me. It may sound silly, but you try singing it! There’s some high notes in that song! When it came down to it, I was cast as Grandma Tzeitle. The fact that she was dead and came back to sing a song from the grave fit my vocal abilities a bit better, apparently. Still, it was wonderful. To be part of such a great cast, and to perform for such a packed house night after night in the Flagler Auditorium was an honor and a joy, something I’ll always remember.
Even though I majored in Journalism, and then Sociology, I always continued to take acting classes in college. At one point, I joined a masked theatre troupe, where we went to Chile to perform in the International Theater Festival, representing the United States. Ours was an odd but brilliant piece, written and directed by two creative geniuses, and audiences either “got it” and laughed, or were insulted and walked out. We loved it, though, and only ever had good intentions at heart. And we had a great time.
After college, I got involved with avant-gard artists and dancers, and we did our own “performance art” whenever and wherever we could – in bars and clubs and coffeehouses. At people’s homes. Sometimes in the street. At events we threw ourselves. At political rallies. For no reason whatsoever. It’s always been good to perform.
In fact, writing this tiny memoire makes me wonder why I haven’t been performing lately. Currently, I’m in film school in Los Angeles. I do love it – my focus is editing, which I love because it’s endlessly creative. But, there’s never been anything like acting for me, like performing on a stage, for me. – Not editing, not journalism or sociology or even tennis. Even now my heart beats for it. I’m forever grateful to Mrs. Fitz and Mrs. Beale and the theater department at FPC and the Flagler Auditorium for what they gave to me, and for what’s stayed with me throughout my whole life – not only the chance to shine, but the chance to discover what it is that I love. And finding and doing what I love, I’ve realized, is nothing less than discovering my very own self.