Sometime its the simplest things which are the hardest to grasp. A few years ago, after a particularly difficult spring the then very small contingent which made up our company expressed to each other that we needed to feel we could admit when we felt weak, when we were overwhelmed, when we needed help. We made a pact to share these feelings so we could help each other - even if help meant reminding each other that we were not alone in our fears/stresses.
Earlier this year a friend asked me if I would be willing to accept any role in a show he will be directing - knowing that I had acted in the same show in college. I told him yes. At the time I was being honest. I was so excited that we were taking on the challenge of this particular script I had been not truly thought through what "any role" might mean... until I was cast. I accepted the role, but even as I did I recalled how of my two roles in this show, one was exhilarating and creatively challenging, while the other was simply challenging in every possible way. Thinking back on the two roles here is how I remember them:
Role A: As the show began I would wait each night behind the curtains itching with excitement. I'd step out proclaiming my lines, dazzled by the texture of the elements of this environment and drink in the audience. I felt both empowered and free.
Role B: Throughout the rehearsal process I was constantly striving to meet the lowest expectations of my director/admired professor. I could feel I was simply not breaking the barriers he'd hoped. I pushed and pushed until I felt emotionally raw. I pushed and pushed physically, as I'd been asked to race through the raked house while shaking a cane high in the air. I wore a sports bra. I ignored the sweat which made my layered costume unpleasantly damp. I struggled to keep control of my breathing - and tried not to be frustrated as I received the criticism "How can you be so out of shape? You're 21!"
So, as I discussed this casting with my friend and fellow theatre-junkie I explained not only this, but that I hadn't quite realized there was a role I really wanted until I was not offered a chance to read for it. I knew fell well I could ask to be considered, but I convinced myself there was no point as the director clearly had a vision in his head which I did not fit.
Never mind the fact that I make a point of telling actors auditioning for me I want them to try to surprise me, to convince me they are right for a role I wouldn't have considered appropriate for them - like say casting a gal who'd be 8 months pregnant as a girl scout.
So, tonight after all this surfaced and I was told strongly that I should read for this role... and that I should always feel like I can tell him these things... well let's just say I felt a bit silly.