Friday, December 14, 2007

December 14 – Day 88

I wasn’t nervous until everyone else started freaking out. Even then I wasn’t sure if the nausea I was feeling was a result of anxious anticipation or the last remaining pangs of my excessive champagne celebration induced hangover. I paced outside the ominous leather filled hallway, looking at photos of the legends of the Moscow Art Theatre waiting for my evaluation. When the door swung open and Alex came out I felt like I did in the sixth grade being sent to see our vicious principal Sister Jackie, expecting a beating. When I went in I was relieved to see the jovial faces of Serge and Igor, and the lovely Natasha. At the other end of the long oval table was Smelianski, presumably trying to create the effect of the might Wizard of Oz. After I sat down it all went by so fast it was hard to absorb everything they were saying. I wasn’t expecting them to lavish me with complements or rip me apart so what they did say was equally surprising and gratifying. I think for many people, at least I know for me, I have spent so much of my life hoping to be a certain kind of person and hoping to be viewed in that light by others. I have wanted to feel put together. I have wanted to feel strong. So when they told me that everything was great, that I am a very talented actress and more importantly am a stable actress who is responsive, in tune and open, I was so touched. They told me that they have loved working with me, that while some people are talented but impossible to work with, I make it a joy to be around. They told me that they chose my work for the end of the show because the last scene that has to be the calling card for the piece and they knew that I would bring the work. In fact, they put said that including my Etude in the piece was a testament to what I can do. They even joked about how impressed they were when I managed to work for weeks with no voice and found ways around it. I have a clear concept of my charm, as an actress and a human being, they said which made me laugh a relieved delighted sigh. I get me now and these things that they were saying meant so much more than if I had gone in there to have them smother me with grandiose statements about being the next big thing. Stanislovski always said that the best actors, the best people, were ones who approached their craft from a stable place. My life can be passionate and solid. I don’t feel like a mess anymore. Natasha then looked me and said, ‘You need more courage. Keep doing these things that challenge you because it is all there, you just have to go for it.’ And if they hadn’t already said enough to keep me red for days, Smeliansky looked up and said in what I thought was going to be an admission of his ignorance to my existence, “Well, you know it is difficult with such a large group… but you are the most beautiful woman there.” (I, of course, went into instant self deprecation mode and just assumed that he said the same thing to all the girls!) They went on at length about my beauty and my charm, and even more so my height and that I must use this all to my advantage because I am built for this work. It was all so very strange and more than I had expected. It was as if they tapped into my deepest fears and insecurities the day I went through customs and decided that they, Russia, as a country and people were going to push and prod me until it was certain that I would leave here without all this baggage. There is a part of me that resisted writing any of this down. It is that insecure part that doesn’t want to feel a braggart but it is part of the story. It is the part of my truth here and while I didn’t leave the room a mess like some many people swaddled in loving praise I felt warm, and a bit strange and saddened that it signaled the end.