Play On

The title is really a misnomer.

The last performance of my show was last night.

And it was canceled.

The Woodshed Collective, which I had originally deemed a bunch of rich kids from Vassar who wanted to “freak the norms”, a place I had been at the age of 16 upon my first experience with cannabis, turned out to be a pretty solid bunch, admirable for their ability not only to put on such a complicated show for such a long period of time, but to do it for free and often, a combination rarely seen.

It wasn’t their fault that the 9:30 show we had was canceled last night. It had started raining, a downpour that hasn’t stopped since, even as I begin writing here and the boat we were performing was slippery under the best of circumstances.

Still though, my parents were there for show and I couldn’t help feeling sort of bad, since the last performance they had come to had also been canceled (about 3/4 in) due to rain.

This time, it was about half way through, even though the rain began in the middle of show. The last time they had canceled the show as soon as it had started, so it was admirable of them to keep it going for so long. I felt a camaraderie, even tucked away in costume in a dry room, as I realized that the normally scrupulous bunch had just decide to say “fuck it” and let the show go on, for our last show of this play we would ever do.

It was a valiant effort, but unfortunately, the Marine division of the Fire Department were near by and basically boarded us intimating to the production staff that it would be prudent for us to stop.

It was fine when it ended, a good run.

It was raining still, so I had limited time to get my clothes and say my goodbyes. I got a few numbers and shook a few hands and took most of my costumes (my actual clothes), leaving my shorts behind, because:

a. I had a surfeit of shorts

and

b. It felt like a long time before there would be a summer again.

I took the one beer I was given as part of our “cast party” as I scurried off to the dock to greet my parents, my aunt and uncle and cousin and my girlfriend who were all waiting dutifully in the rain.

They had come out all this way, I suppose, so they felt like keeping on.

And I walked them with my beer in hand and shirt in the other, down the dock.

***

It had been a good run.

I’d had friends come, I’d had teachers. My parents had come what seemed like 4 different times.

More than that, I felt cool that I accomplished something I hadn’t expected:

Which was that, by the end of the play, I was so used to it that it was second nature, it wasn’t a question of whether I would be able to do the play tonight, but how I wanted to do it.

The Nick who had shit his pants at the thought of memorizing lines had done a fairly decent job of it.

And while I wouldn’t exactly call myself actor, I at least felt a participant on that crazy boat.

An example:

My Friday was bad.

I spent the first part of the day learning that I didn’t have to come into work, something that depressed me as it made me feel unwelcome at the office, but that I could read from home the autobiography of a scummy, scuzzy individual whose writing style intersected between the tabloid-journalistic and an act of hairy self-fellatio.

Later, I had what I thought was an information session, but what turned out to be a group interview for jobs at the Apple store, an application I had filled out three months prior and had forgotten about. Working for Apple, I thought, would be a great part-time job, one that would allow me to keep up my cache of cool while actually showing semblance of supporting myself.

I came dressed in jeans and a button-up shirt to a call of “business-casual”, only to find the other people in the room considerably older, more experienced and even better, dressed to the tees. When I was asked about why I would recommend someone I was supposed to have spontaneously interviewed in the group I said his best quality was that:

“He’s friendly and very personable so he made me feel real good when he turned and started talking to me, which I bet he could do in the apple store, since I walk in there and am sometimes daunted by all the technology.”

Great. So I had just told the team of HR overseers looking to hire that I was “daunted by technology”.

They said they would let us know either way.

The day seem to spiral from there in a haze of package-checking, subway delays, food-flubbing and a visit home that not only entailed a fight with my parents but a notice that I had been unceremoniously rejected from the young playwrights program that I had applied to.

When my parents tried to console me, it only made me feel worse as they consolations felt like the consolations to Nicholas the 16 year-old as opposed to Nicholas the playwright who might actually have had a chance.

When I got to the boat, I felt like shit, I felt tired, I had just been yelled at by my mom for 20 minutes on my walk over from our house to the boat and I felt again unemployed and unemployable, about to do two shows back-to-back for free.

But then it was on, the music began, the show started and I wandered the boat and I disappeared into my character. I was pissed, so Aubrey Black was pissed. I felt misunderstood, so he did too. I had seen the bullshit of fake confidence in that group interview, so that was what I gave in my show down between confidence men.

By the second show I was better, I was ready. I was on the ball, I was gone.

Looking back on this play, The Confidence Man, I am proud of the experience, even if it wasn’t always my best.

It was something new for me to do, something I didn’t know if I could.

I still don’t think I’m the best theatrical actor in the world, or on that boat, or even in my scenes.

But I did it and they didn’t throw tomatoes.

And it’s another foot I have in the world.

Another thing to think.

***

Finally, I know I always do this, but Jason Lee recently accused me of pirating his blog, in the sense of controlling its spin.

As I just went into the horrific experience of a group interview though, I now have renewed respect.

Somedays I think it’s impossible that he’s reached the 100-application mark (and passed it) and still doesn’t have a job. I feel like he should write a non-fiction book about it, something Barbara Ehrenreich-y.

But still as always, know him or not, it’s worth checking out.

Kudos to Jason for the good, sardonic fight. And to the cast and crew of The Confidence Man as well as my friends who came out.

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3 Responses to Play On

  1. Lisa says:

    as always, proud of you and also am aware of your real age (and it hasn’t been 16 for a while). Also convinced there’s a reason for most things so there will be other writing workshops…this one was not meant to be. By the way, there’s no shame in interning. Working for a living, as Tony Iaquinta has famously said, is highly overrated.

  2. Katy says:

    Nick, it was a pleasure working with you on the boat. I have to admit, it was sometimes difficult to figure out if Aubrey Black and Nicholas Feitel were the same person or if you just put so much of yourself into the character that the lines got fuzzy. Either way, I’m glad you were a part of the experience.

  3. jason says:

    i am a friend of jason’s. i am on his computer but can’t sign out because then he’d try to go onto wordpress tomorrow to talk about the jobs he didn’t get and wouldn’t be logged in. so i’m writing under his name. anyway he mentioned in passing that you mentioned him in your facebook status as “some depressed dude.” the status was written on the 27th, and he saw whip it on the 26th, so, needless to say, he is not depressed. also, he would probably say something typically impudent like “that i-set-out-to-do-this-and-here’s-a-book-about-what-i-learned brand of non-fiction writing is the final refuge of the talentless.” Gosh, i just read that out loud. what an asshole.

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