7 September 2008

Most of the past few months has gone by in a 100 mile/hr haze. What is it about deadlines and expectations that makes 24 hrs seem like not enough? And it’s always the alarm clock in the morning that is too early…

I’m in Malmö at the theater where I made my professional debut exactly four years ago, and I am actually even staying in the same building, except I’ve graduated to the top floor apartment… The neighborhood and the walk to the theater every day are bringing back great memories – as well as a bit of confusion as to where the past four years have gone…?

It seems the past couple of jobs I’ve had, as well as a variety of situations in life at large, have been training in doing what we can about the things we can, and releasing everything else into the cosmic sea of “hope it will turn out… eventually…. fingers crossed…”
Being somewhat of a control freak, this is not something with which I am comfortable. Having all my ducks in a row is important – mostly for that deep, restful night’s sleep….

The other day, I was running in the park here, and suddenly I had to come to a complete stop and wait with all the other humans – there was a path crossing going on – A pair of swans with their SIX babies. Mommy up front heading into the grass, and Daddy standing on the path, waiting for each baby to step out of the water, shake themselves off, and calmly stroll across the path into the field.
The family unit was perfect – each child with their own pace and their own place – Complete order – And PATIENCE!

I have never had patience. It’s a good thing I am tenacious, or I’d never get to the finish line. In the meanwhile, I do experience so much of my own frustration with the process though, and sometimes that takes its toll.

But I am learning from the lovely people around me. Thank goodness for wise and “real” people!!

This new opera, which we are premiering in two weeks, is the hardest thing I have ever had to learn. Musically, emotionally, and just plain vocally. My character is a complex and damaged woman who gets the opportunity to face her demons, in real life. The music is intricate and complex, and demands an enormous amount of stamina, ingenuity, courage and just plain old fashioned imagination from each of us as individuals. Add an almost three octave range for over two hours of non-stop singing, and what you have is a stressful and taxing eight week rehearsal period.

This libretto by Ariel Dorfman, based on his award-winning play, Death and the Maiden, is a complete privilege to be involved with. It is an incredible story, expressed in what I can only call miraculous language.

I came here under-prepared to say the least. The score was six months late and I was busy with other performances that took too much of my mental and emotional energy. Working on several projects at the same time is a challenge – one I must start to master… In the meanwhile, I am so reliant on my coach in New York to learn new music, and although we worked like dogs through the month of July, nothing could prepare me for the process that would set in once here with my colleagues.

I like arriving fully prepared and “competent”… And it’s very difficult to step into a new group of people and immediately be willing to show up with all your weaknesses and “stuff” that goes into your learning. My coach knows me well and I trust him with witnessing me at my worst, digging through the muck of learning and being reduced to being a “beginner”. It is something else to share that with a large group of colleagues you don’t yet know…

What I am learning is that it’s OK. It’s OK to figure it out, ask for time, ask for help, be insecure in public, and still go home and be able to sleep well in the knowledge that everything is going to be fine the next day. That everyone is going to come back to work and simply keep plugging away at what clearly isn’t easy at all…

I am also learning to appreciate my own level of self-expectation in terms of standards. I just don’t give myself a break. And sometimes that isn’t totally productive. Being too pedantic and judgmental towards oneself can really put a stick in the wheel.

I still don’t know HOW we are going to get this show to “work” by two weeks from now…. But, I do trust myself and my dear colleagues to keep passing each other the ball and keep our feet moving. Nobody in this group is going to sit down on the bench in the middle of a difficult game. We are more likely to try to reinvent the game… They’re teaching me that!

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