Finding My Way to Whimsy
By Megan O’Connor
I have a massive bruise on my arm. And when people ask me what happened, I tell them that it’s the direct result of a musical chairs incident.
The worst part is that it is.
I have a massive bruise on my arm from playing musical chairs because I am a 29-year-old woman who spends her weekends pretending to be a 12-year-old girl. I’m part of the ensemble for the incredibly quirky and delightful musical Dotty Dot!, and the rehearsal process for this show is so different than any other I’ve been part of. We have our fun at Brelby, but at the callbacks for this show we played hide and seek (I found everyone btw). And at our last rehearsal, we warmed up by playing musical chairs, and I fought David Magadan for the last chair aka eternal glory. We ended in a tie, but I’m going to say that because I broke a nail AND have this enormous war wound (AND it’s my column) that I won. I can’t believe I’m doing any of this, hide and seek, winning musical chairs. I never won when I was a kid, because I never took those kinds of things seriously. I didn’t throw myself into party games; I was the kid that was outraged because someone cut the line. And I was outraged not because I wanted to get to the piñata first, but because there was a system.
I have a very clear memory of being at a friends house when I was 6; she had decided we were going to spend the whole day playing make believe. Together we invented this world and all the characters that lived in it, and I was done. All that was good for me; because I’m good at using my imagination that was the game I wanted to play. To take it a step further and actually pretend to exist in this place seemed beyond ridiculous to me. And at no point during that day did I ever forget I wasn’t pretending. At no point during that day did I stop feeling self-conscious about it. And it wasn’t just that day. I loved being in plays and on stage, I loved to sing and dance when I was a kid, but I never experienced full immersion into a character or a world, except when I was reading (imagination). I never gave myself up to it and continued to feel self-conscious all the way into high school and guess what? It lingers into adulthood.
So what am I doing here? How is it, that a logical rational child, who grew into a logical rational adult, is spending her days and nights thinking about how to play pretend?
At the end of Brelby’s sixth season (last year), I wasn’t sure if I should continue working here. I was so out of my element, and so terrified by everything that happened at this charming lovely Theatre (even though nothing remotely terrifying ever happens). As welcoming and accepting as everyone is, I wasn’t convinced I should be here. And when people ask why I started in the first place, I tell them it’s because Shelby made me. It’s the truth, but what’s also true, is that no one forces me to be here. Loving being at Brelby, is not something I have to do.
So why do I?
Why do any of us do anything that we don’t have to do?
The answer is simple. It’s because we want to! Life is full of things that we don’t want to do like paying taxes and eating salad. But we have to. We have to brush our teeth on a regular basis, we have to go to jobs that don’t fulfill us but pay the bills and keep us out of trouble. But then we do things we love. Things that challenge us, that scare us. That thrill and delight and amaze and astonish us, to help us keep doing the things we have to do, like go to the gym. Doing things we love gives us something to look forward to. Doing things we love, things we really want to do, helps us to make it through all the rest of it. All the rest of the things we’d rather not do.
So I’m a 29-year-old woman, pretending to be a fidgety extroverted 12-year-old girl.
I’m a 29-year-old woman pretending for the very first time ever. And I’m happy to do it.
Dotty Dot! opens on May 1st and runs in rep with Little Women. Performance dates and times include:
Friday, May 1st @ 5:00 PM
Thursday, May 7th @ 5:00 PM
Friday, May 8th @ 5:00 PM
Saturday, May 9th @ 2:00 PM
Friday, May 15th @ 5:00 PM
Friday, May 22nd @ 5:00 PM
Tickets are $10 (free with a ShowGo membership) and can be purchased online, by phone, or in person.
Box Office Online: http://brelby.com/2015-season-tickets/
Box Office Phone: 623.282.2781