About that rusty frame in the basement....

By Charlotte Northeast

We opened Shitheads last night by Douglas Williams. It’s the story of a bike shop in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. It’s the story of old friends and new friends and the vocabulary, the camaraderie and the common space they share. And it’s the story of what and how the soul of a place is defined.

Much like the characters in the story, the cast (Akeem Davis, David Pica, Harry Watermeier and myself) have developed quite the rapport - in-jokes and gentle jabs and general ball-bustery. Director Kevin Glaccum has gamely allowed this and even pitched in with the highest levels of shade.  It’s been a joy.

Especially for this actress - about to hit age 38 and having taken a hiatus from being on stage for almost 15 months. It was not by choice. That’s the life of an actor - and 2016 was a banner year for me in that I was not working because I was not cast in anything. I did readings and workshops and I am very grateful for them but nonetheless, stepping out on stage again these past few days has felt exhilarating and terrifying. Have some rust to scrape off.

But here is the strange part - I was more open to my instincts and impulses than ever before. While in rehearsal, I was able to see things in a new way, articulate moments more clearly and be a contributor in a very collaborative process. I never felt like the rusty wheel in the room.  (Full disclosure: no one was). 

The odd thing about being in the theater so long and then having a dry spell is the realization that my craft is there, I’m more confident than I have ever been in my abilities and instincts. The 28-year old Charlotte didn’t have those skills or that amount of confidence. And yet, sometimes my brain and body fail me. I’ve had moments of losing lines that I’ve never lost before, as well as interesting prop moments. I’m not sure if I can chalk it up to fatigue, mommy brain (I have a busy 5-year old), my older brain, or the rust that has settled in over 15 months of “rest.” 

Whatever the cause(s), I’m happy to report we opened the show without much ‘fanfare’ from my amygdala last night. She cooperated. I realize I have to do more work than I did before to keep her in line but it’s worth it when the moments land, the characters simply speak and react in real time and we tell Doug’s wonderful story.

I am also grateful to Doug for writing the character of Izzy. He could’ve written some bright young thing role but he chose to create a woman who’d seen it all and was trying to change it (all the time peppering her speech and mannerisms with a healthy amount of tom-fuckery).  These roles don’t come along very often. Such roles are to be encouraged and lord knows, their stories should be told.

So - now we run - or should I say ride - this story until March 12. Join us.