Friday, October 15, 2010

Acting Up In Church

I've been going to church for some time now. It's a particular kind of youthful-skewing church rich in creative energy, and the services tend to reflect that. As opposed to hymns, the music is closer to pop and rock- it's an indie singer-songwriter kind of sound. There are also dance performances, occasional improv comedy of the kind I do, and sometimes there are theater pieces- sketches, I suppose it would be fair to say. That last item is what I'm getting to, if you're feeling impatient. I've in the past watched friends do those sketches, never participating myself. That recently changed as I was asked to pitch in with a part probably best described as a cameo (or it would be so called if I were a big enough deal). That happened on a Friday night, with the performances to take place at two different locations in one day. It was interesting.

I got a script the following night, reading it at the end of a social excursion which I expect to write about before long. The script proved what I had been told, which was that I had no lines but would be on stage throughout. I therefore felt comfortable about being able to do it right at such short notice. If there was any concern I had, it was getting from one end of town to about the entire other end in time. Ultimately I figured that while it might be somewhat arduous, it was entirely manageable, and so I set myself to the task of getting up in time to go to the first performance. This was to take place in Pasadena, so it was an easy enough trip of less than an hour on a single bus. The bus got me there early, so I got off at a major intersection hoping to find something to eat before my call time (finding that the coffee I drank was more disruptive than helpful on its own). I bought a sandwich and drink, eating then at one of the outside tables at some eatery which hadn't opened yet. I then walked over to the church. A fellow performer spied me walking along, and insisted that I ride with him for the minute or so it took to enter the lot and park.

It's rather impressive how the people responsible for making the services happen take to their duties. They were undoubtedly there longer before I, who rolled in at 8:15. At that time, the band was practicing. The tech people had to have been there well before that. Church was actually to start at 10. After the band was done, we had our rehearsals, which were valuable. I may not have had lines, but I did have to successfully respond to my cue and hit my mark, which are not tasks to be taken lightly. I kept getting there too soon, but eventually got it. It was great fun performing in this way with friends as well as making the acquaintance of others. I cherish the rapport of such a group, and did even when I was not a terribly social person. It feels great.

Of course I was rather nervous about going on when our time came, but one can draw strength from comrades who probably feel the same but don't show it. We seemed to do a fine job, if one can rely on the response from the crowd and the words of our esteemed director. The rest all left, but I hung around for the rest of the service. I couldn't focus on a single work, so over-stimulated was I from the experience of the performance. It's that way for me even with such a modest part as I had on this occasion. I exited with everyone else, bashfully receiving a last compliment on my way out. I gave thought to joining some friends briefly to watch football, but discarded the idea as unreasonable. I would jeopardize my chances of arriving on time to our second performance for the sake of perhaps an hour of football. I resolved to just go over after it was all through in the hopes of making it for part of the day's last game that evening.

Now was the time for my great trip across the county. I decided to forgo a bus meant to take me to the light rail, and marched myself there on foot. While so doing, I came across a neighborhood side street bearing my surname, which is not an entirely common one. I guess my decision paid off right there. I took a picture and continued on, reaching the station after a fashion. I'm embarrassed to admit I missed the first train that came because I had forgotten to look for a different final destination on the headsign since the line's extension had opened. It cost me twenty minutes, but it was all right. The train took me to a rapid bus, which deposited me at my destination with an hour to spare. I opted to stop in at a coffee shop so that I might avail both myself and my phone of an energy boost. It was an hour well spent.

Fifteen minutes before call time, I headed over to this church service's location: a rather affluent high school of some notoriety. I observed that it appeared bigger in acreage than every school I've ever been to combined, and boasted what looked like finer amenities than any of them, my colleges included. I wandered around looking for the auditorium, eventually finding it and discovering that once again, I had needlessly expended all possible effort to get somewhere on time when no one else did, the director included. It's a personal fault I have to work on. There were some tweaks to be made for this performance to bring us in line with the different space. There were different set pieces and a different stage, among other things. The energy was different- relaxed by comparison with the morning, but effective. Having been through it once, we felt comfortable, but got over any notion of complacency by the time we were done rehearsing. It went as well as the first time, if not better. In a reverse, I was the lone participant to leave, hoping as I was to get to my friends by the second half. I indeed managed to do so, and the experience was over.

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