Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ack-Ting!

by KAK

It's not for the fame. It's certainly not for the fortune (less than 1% actually achieve six-figure paydays). It's all about telling the story.

Nope. I didn't always want to be an author.
I wanted to be on Broadway.


I dreamed of baking in the hot blaze of the footlights. My skin craved the smothering perfection of sixteen pounds of make-up. For ninety-minutes a day (and twice a day on weekends) I wanted to seize total strangers by their imagination and whisk them away to a place of fantasy.



As a child, I wasn't merely a ham. I was the whole piggy.

People didn't ask what I wanted to be. I made it obvious. I had a habit of mimicry. No, no, not that kind. My sister quickly cured me of the parrot-syndrome to which every small sibling is entitled. No, I was a classically bored child  inevitably stuck in a room full of windbag adults -- a product of "children should be seen and not heard (and preferably not seen)." In those situations you either develop a keen eye for architecture or people.

Company was guaranteed. Four walls and a roof weren't.

I specialized my studies. Mannerisms, affectations, and speech patterns. From the way the Colonel always pulled on his nose-hairs after asking rhetorical questions to the pitch of the pastor's wife's cackle, I had it down. Most of the time, my vocabulary hadn't caught up to the conversation at hand (really, do not get stuck on drink duty with a bunch of aircraft engineers out for a summer troll on the ol' houseboat), so content was questionable and unintentionally dirty (I did mention summer + booze + boats, yes?). The best part for me / worst part for my parents?

I was absolutely content to play without a dedicated audience.

Yes, writing is much like that. Not such a stretch see how I got to where I am now, is it? Back then, however, I knew that nothing, but nothing, would stand between me and The Stage. I would grow up to be the next Ethel Merman. I liked comedy. I liked brashness. And most of all, I was an alto.

There is no part of me that is angelic, and that includes my voice.

So what kept me from pursuing my childhood dream? If you read last week's post, you already know the first problem. The second part? Well, let's just say that my very first role in elementary school musical theater was as Scrooge. I'd earned the lead with  my natural ability to sing off key. Unwilling to let the dream die, I kept pursuing it until college, where my astounding inability to remember bupkis got me banned from auditions. People would cringe whenever I'd head to the not-completely-soundproof-music-cells to practice my scales. 

The final blow was that thing called Independence.

One does not get paid for failed auditions. One cannot pay for an apartment or food or shoes without a paycheck. So, I stopped tormenting theater groups and became a desk-jockey. 

The thing about dreams is, you always remember the good ones. For me? It's fond memory of singing one of Ethel Merman's greatest hits on a stage, under a spotlight...

In a bear costume.



7 comments:

  1. Amazing to me how many writers started out life as actors. Interesting parallel development there. If I may speak for the writers, we're happy to have you on our team.

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  2. You know there are plays that aren't musicals?? That could seriously use your talents? Now granted. Broadway it's not. But I, your fellow actor, salute your dedication. Cause the bear suit? I really hope for your sake that came with a paycheck.

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  3. Love Ethel Merman! Great post. :-)

    Are there any pix of the bear suit?

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  4. As a pig myself I have to say no one should ever be just a ham, but always the whole piggy! ;-)

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  5. I dare say actors and writers have a twisted desire to confront rejection. ~cough~ And thanks for keeping on the Writers' kickball team.

    Alas, Marcella, Ethel-in-a-bear-suit was without pay. And, Laura, if there are bear-suit pics, I imagine they'll surface only if I out-pace J K Rowling as top-grossing author...which is a price I'm willing to pay!

    Sullivan, cheers to the whole hog!

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  6. KAK--your post was delightful. Punch line in red at the end included. NIIIIICE!!!!!!

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  7. Oh, Linda, bring on the Furries!

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