Thursday, January 06, 2005

Meltdown in a snowstorm

I have loved going backstage in theatres ever since Greg Becker's uncle gave us a tour of the Auditorium Theater after a production of Phantom of the Opera when I was in high school. It was glorious and the dominant memory that I have of it is looking up to see a gigantic skirt hanging from one of the booms. They just lowered it onto Christine when necessary! Freaking cool. I guess that I must have had experiences going backstage before that since Dad did so much work in the theatre and I know that my freshman year we must have had a small tour of the new Steppenwolf Theatre because I remember going to see opening night of their first production there. But Greg Becker pointing out his uncle's white sneakers under the curtain at intermission because he was in position to catch the falling chandelier felt like "real" backstage stuff.

Since then, I have gotten to see a three-legged dog in the basement of Steppenwolf, toured the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and played in the costume shop of Cedar Point theme park, Plus, I've been a studio teacher, so I have gotten to wander through the Schubert with the kids from The Full Monty, I got to see a dress rehearsal of Kander/Ebb/McNally's The Visit at the Goodman and I went on tour with Dragontales and learned quite a bit about the life and smells of real stagehands.

Today, I got to see the wig and make-up shop of the Lyric Opera and to talk to their wigmaster and wig shop manager for a good 45 minutes. They were so welcoming and personable. I was tagging along with my friend Camilla, who is a fabulous fashion and costume designer. (She made my wedding dress, for those of you out there that were impressed by it.) Camilla is in an exclusive graduate program at Penn State University to get her Master's in costume design after getting her undergraduate degree in Fashion here in Chicago. She has worked her ass off and I have so much respect for her talents. She reads the plays she designs for as literature. She does more than read them; she studies them. She does oodles of research on the history of design so her own productions have real depth and authenticity. She has a passion and she has done the work to gain the skills to fulfill that passion. If I doubted her passion, I would be proven wrong by the time we spent together before the opera at the Field Museum's Jackie Kennedy exhibit. She was the perfect person to go see that with since she marvels at the actual construction of the gowns and knows the work of the designers and can understand how the dresses and suits came to be designed. She loved it. She more than loved it; she appreciated it. That appreciation made my own experience better.

When we got into the wig shop, Camilla didn't start right in because she is sometimes shy, so the wigmaster started on his usual spiel for dummies with, "Almost all of our wigs are made from human hair." He got one or two more sentences out and Camilla asked, "So, do you do your own ventilation?" Rick did a visible double-take and then smiled. I had no idea what they were talking about after that. They were absorbed in talking about what they knew because it was interesting to them and because they wanted to see if there was anything they could learn from one another. Pure passion. Camilla had her portfolio and he wanted to see it, out of genuine interest. They had a passion and it was satisfying to watch them share it with each other.

And so, we get to my meltdown. I don't have a passion. That's why I moved to the island: to rest and allow a latent passion rise to the surface. It's getting better; I have hobbies now, at least. That helps. But no passion. No desire that shapes the choices that I make in life. It sucks. But, I didn't realize that that old angst was rising to the surface in its place until I was slogging through the snow walking home from the train station. Frustration at not being picked up in what I believed to be a timely fashion (even though I knew I was rediculous to expect my mom to be a chauffer) acted as a release and I had a slight meltdown with my mom (who's wonderful) when I got home.

I was reading another blog and the man wrote about finding his "Ebenezer" in the town he had recently moved to, referring to the old hymn, "Come Thou Font Of Every Blessing," which is basically a plea to God, asking him to show us the way. Actually, rather than a plea, it's more of a request asked in a tone of confidence that the answer will come. I know that I will find something that I want to learn skills in order to do. I will find my Ebenezer. It just sucks sometimes that I'm not home yet.

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I'm come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

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