Last night, one of the most challenging, heartfelt, sincere theatre experiences of my career came to an end. We closed HAIR at The Keegan Theatre with a nearly sold out run, two weeks of extensions, many a tear shed and more pride in a project than could ever have been imagined.
There are so many reasons this was such a highly emotional experience and why its closing brought up all of the feelings.
There was nudity. And lots of it. Never have I ever imagined myself standing naked on stage in front of over 100 people, for 30 performances.
But more importantly, and probably the greatest lesson that came out of this, stemmed from a physical injury that I endured throughout the process, which, in turn, though I feel physically weaker, made me mentally stronger.
Since 2009, I have been dealing with the same herniated disc in my lower lumbar spine. Over the years, I have been able to keep it under control on my own. But days before starting rehearsals for HAIR, I took a turn for the worse. I found myself curled up in a ball on the floor, sobbing uncontrollably, in the worst pain of my life. And there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t get to a doctor. Calling an ambulance wasn’t an option because being moved a fraction of a millimeter would trigger intense, sharp, burning mass amounts of pain. That went on for three days, until my doctor finally got me Percocet, which made it possible to get an MRI, showing that (GASP!) I had a huge disc herniation that was pressing against several nerves.
The disc pain was bad, but the nerve pain was horrendous. It went all the way down my leg and into my foot. The pain made me feel like my leg was going to turn black and fall off. I had trouble walking, but the Percocet was helping.
Over the course of the rehearsal/show process, I went through two Percocet prescription refills, two Gabapentin refills (nerve pain killers) and three epidural injections. And thank GOD I had doctors who were willing to use less invasive measures to “get me through until closing” instead of urging me to quit.
And although some nights I would find myself limping back to my car after a rehearsal or show, all that went through my mind was “I have to do this. I have to do this. There’s no way I’m NOT going to do this.” My biggest fear was having to let go and drop the show.
Sound crazy? Probably. But this show is super important to me. I did HAIR in October of 2006 at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, and it was an amazing experience. Since that production, two of my Tribe members have passed away suddenly, leaving a big hole in my heart. One of them was my best friend, Darin. We had been through so much together, that production of HAIR included. We spent hours together, figuring out where I should place each riff in “Easy to be Hard,” listening to the Shoshana Bean version of “I Believe in Love” and wishing we could whistle tone, and beaming with pride over the beautiful piece of theatre we were a part of.
So when the opportunity came around to be a part of a brand new Tribe and a completely different, yet equally exciting, Tribe experience, I couldn’t give it up.
Which leads me to today’s post-show project. The artwork for the poster is incredible. I love the colors. I love the concept. It’s perfect. So when I first saw the box of posters in the box office during rehearsals, I grabbed one for framing.
I found this frame at the thrift store for $2.50.
And It was the perfect size for the poster.
First thing’s first, remove the awkward paper backing.
Then peel off the foam core “art”.
Use the existing foam core to make matting.
Wrap DIY matting with duct tape.
Then cover this awkward plate at the bottom of the frame with duct tape.
And there you have it.
And just for fun, my tribe in 2006:
And the WAPPO Tribe in 2014:
Very different. Equally momentous.
So much love and gratitude to everyone who came out to support this beautiful production.