Door Number Two!

The thing about dreams is that the crushing, the squelching, the termination of them is so much better in retrospect than when it actually happens.

At 17, I just knew I was going to be an actress.  A stage actress (because, don’t cha know, film work is not true acting. ) And I made that choice even before I realized that the camera brings out the psycho in me.

Now, I was very serious about this dream.  Of course I took my high school’s acting classes.  And, all snark aside, they were really good.  The Players were renown throughout the area for the professional quality of its high school actors.  And the accolades were well deserved.

Me?  Was I the star?  Was I the ingénue lead in all the productions during my high school years?  Was there a reason for my hubris?  Did my classmates look at me, remember my face and say to each other “someday we will remember when the very highly talented Miss Elyse went sledding outside our Algebra class (with that other fab actress, Ray) when she was supposed to be writing her math problems on the blackboard – because now,” sigh, “she’s a STAR.”   Oops, no, I mean they’d think “because now she is a highly successful stage ACTress.”

Uh, no they didn’t.  I was invariably an extra in those acclaimed productions.  At best I got a line or two.

But I had heart.  And in the theatRE, that’s all you need, right?  “There are no small parts, only small actors.”  Well, I was NOT a small actor.  I just got small parts.  And I was short and thin.  So I was small.  Shit.

But I DID get an audition.

Yup!  I had an audition in April of 1974, the spring of my senior year, for the Central School of Speech and Drama, an acting school in London.  Now, I was an hour outside of New York, and that might have been a wee bit easier to manage.  But hey, this was a dream, remember.  And I wanted London:  The Globe, The West End, Masterpiece TheatRE (even if it was done on film, it didn’t seem like it).

I was ready to take the first step in my path.

My audition was held in a building at Yale University.  I performed my comedy bit first, a monologue from a comedy so obscure that I have blotted it totally from my brain.

I sang “Adelaide’s Lament” under the guidance of my friend Sue, who actually played Adelaide in our school’s production of Guys and Dolls.  She was good.  So was I.  Well, not quite as good, but who’d notice?

I delivered my Juliet speech – hey, what do you want, Lady Macbeth?  I was 17!!!  I chose one that is rarely performed, the one where Juliet is about to take the sleeping potion and is seeing her cousin Tybalt’s ghost:

O, look! methinks I see my cousin’s ghost
Seeking out Romeo, that did spit his body
Upon a rapier’s point: stay, Tybalt, stay! (I loved that line)
Romeo, I come! this do I drink to thee.

I drank the potion, collapsed on the floor in the best Juliet evah.

I thanked the three faculty judges, repeated my name, made sure they had my completed application and my picture (although how could they forget me?)  I turned and walked to the door to leave.  Only there were two doors.

I opened the one on the right, walked through it and closed the door behind me.

It was a broom closet.

What do I do now, I wondered.  There was no script.  No stage directions.  No help of any kind.  I considered staying in the closet, but knew that eventually I had to come out.  After a minute that lasted forever, I re-opened the door and slunk out, saying a line I haven’t heard in too many successful plays:

“Ummm, that’s the broom closet.”

I opened the other door and left the room, closing my dream back in the room with the judges.

I know that if I’d just gone out singing and dancing, well, this chapter would be the opening scene of my life story.

Maybe it still is.  Cause it hasn’t been at all bad.

*****************

My thanks to MJ Monaghan, who posted a great piece today:  A Letter to my Guidance Counsellor.  Naturally I felt compelled to copy it.

Damn those copyright laws.

60 Comments

Filed under Childhood Traumas, Humor, Music, Stupidity

60 responses to “Door Number Two!

  1. The sweeter the dream the sadder the awakening. But the funnier the telling of the broom closet story. Let’s all laugh a little at ourselves.

  2. If only you had been auditioning for a comedic role…

    • You’re right. It would have been memorable, and I’d be a star.
      I read once that in her first audition, Goldie Hawn sang “You say TomAYto” only instead of doing the two different pronunciations, she sang “You say TomAYto, I say TomAYto, you say PoTAYto, I say PoTAYto. TomAYto, TomAYto, PoTAYto, PoTAYto …” She was remembered and has been playing ditzy blonds ever since!

  3. That is a totally inspiring story. I love it when people try. I don’t give a shit if they succeed. I just love that trying.
    Les

    • Inspiring, huh? Yes, I’m glad I tried, and in reality I am happy that my life took the path it did. But I will always wonder what would have happened if I’d made a funny exit. I like to assume I’d be a hit!

  4. Though I’m sure it was a bit embarrassing when it happened, it makes for a great funny story now!

    • Thanks.
      It took me about 15 years to tell it the first time. I didn’t even tell my friend Sue, who was outside the door waiting for me and giving me moral support, until many years later!

  5. I love this story about you and I think you should follow your dream….is there a community theater in your neighborhood? I mean it… you should audition for some thing! Just make sure you know your exits!

  6. I’m so glad other people do things like this…only you’re the braver one…you share it. Kudos to you. I’m sure you’ve learned how to make a great exit from a room.

  7. I love your stories…your quest for the “histrionic”…I learned that word spring of my junior year in college in NYC…I’ll use it now because I think it fits.

    • Your comment is particularly funny, as I just came across that wonderful word while researching psychosis! Me? histrionic? Me crazy? Depends on who you talk to!

      Thanks for commin’ over.

  8. I absolutely LOVED this post. You are brave in so many ways. I have always had this secret dream to be an actress. And you actually went out on a limb and gave it a solid try! I bow down to you. I laughed at your story too, mainly because that totally would be something I would have done. But I probably would have stayed in that broom closet a lot longer though!

    • Acting is really great fun, a great way to meet people. Better, I think it taught me to consider how other people think and to try to get inside their heads. Mostly, it got me over the terrible shyness I had as a kid.

      But even though I knew it was funny even while I was standing there with the mops and brooms, I was wishing I would die then and there and not have to turn and go out!

      Thanks for hearing my story!

  9. Loved it; we’ve all been in the broom closet before, few have had the courage to come back out.

    Bravo!! Now, take a bow :) MJ

    • Sometimes, you just have to come out! For this story it took nearly 20 years though until I was literally walking past that building with my husband and a friend and remembered it. Then I told that story for the first time ever (I didn’t even tell my friend Sue who went to the audition with me to give me moral support.)

      Thanks for your comment, as always.

  10. A great, marvelous and wonderful opening scene. Very, very good. Thanks.

  11. Hi,
    10 out of 10 for giving it a go. I admire your courage, and I loved the post. :)

    • Thanks Mags! Glad you liked it.

      I don’t think it especially brave to write about it, though. Once I can laugh at something stupid I’ve done, I need to share it!

  12. I’ve often said that I sucked at acting, but drama is my life.

    • No, no, no. At least based on your writing, COMEDY is your life — you find the humorous side of everything!

      Besides, if you were a drama queen, you would have killed your not-yet-husband with the roasting pan!

  13. GOF

    Wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it, and how inspiring that you had the guts and determination to chase your dream.
    Oh, and the “broom closet” bit provided my first smile for the day…thanks. :-)

    • Ooh, GOF, I hope you are in a different time zone. The time of comment line says you posted this at 3:45 P.M. I hope that was morning(ish) for you and that you’ve had many more smiles throughout the day.

      • GOF

        Just to make it clear that for most of the time I am not a slack-arse who doesn’t get out of bed until 3pm every day , I guess we should establish that you can add around 15 hours to your time (I think…math wasn’t my forte) to calculate Eastern Australian Standard time. :-)

  14. Ugh — awful! That sounds like something that would happen to me. Or to Bridget Jones. It did make for great humor writing though. I bet you were the best Juliet since Marcia Brady :)

    • You know, I think there were LOTS of us in that closet.

      And Marcia Brady had NOTHIN’ on me. Do you think Dad, the boys and Alice would have let her rendezvous with Romeo? I think not.

  15. Your story is SO much better than mine. I love the broom closet exit! That is so “drama-esque,”

    • No, no, no. They’re just different, that’s all. We all ricochet off of each other’s lives and each other’s stories. That may just be my favorite part of blogging. It’s like being with a great, clever friend, who can zig with the zags.

  16. Wonderful story! You were so serious and ended up being seriously funny. And now you write about it.

    • That’s what happens when I wear heels too — I try too hard and end up, well, not where I want to be. Glad you liked it!

      I’m really glad I found your blog.

  17. A great story … but exiting the closet with a broom and tap dancing while smiling would have been a classic. A great reflection on life too.

    BTW – look at the number of comments you have here …. hello – you don’t need me as a coach! … and you have MJ to boot!

    • I have wished and wished and WISHED that I did exit just as you say — with style. Maybe if this happened to me now I could, but then my Juliet wouldn’t have been quite so sweet!

      And Yup, I have MJ — and you, and all my blogging friends. I think that’s why I can tell y’all my deepest darkest secrets. It is such a great community, isn’t it? Everybody always seems to be with me, with you, with all the other bloggers I read. And we all cheer for each other. Help them through their embarrassments, their fears, their lives. I just love it.

      So thanks, Frank. Thanks everybody!

  18. Hilarious! Wish I could have seen you draped on the floor right before the broom closet exit.

    • I didn’t mention that the small vial I used as my “potion” was filled with my sister’s perfume. I didn’t drink it — and announced to the judges “umm, it’s perfume.” OY!

      Thanks PW!

  19. Love the telling of the story. That in itself is impressive. AND…how impressive are you. I was all about theater in school as well. I got my Thespian letter, which was referred to as my Lesbian letter by nimrods and I was going to major in theater in college. It never went beyond the highschool stage. Good for you. You rock!

    • I never went past the high school stage either. And while I went to London, I sat in the Dress Circle — I didn’t look downstage at the audience.

      But you know, the stuff you learn when you take acting courses is invaluable. You learn to walk in someone else’s shoes, to think as they do, to try and figure out what their motivation could possibly be. There is no better training for life.

      Happy New Year, Lorre!!!!!!! I love having you as my new blogging bud!

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  21. JSD

    Very funny. I, too, think the tap dance exit with a broom would have been the clincher. Thanks for sharing. :)

  22. I think there’s something to be said for having dreams. And if they don’t come true, it usually means that there’s something better suited to us, don’t cha think?

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  24. Thank you for sharing this piece of yourself with us. I think most people have felt the same way more often than we’d like to count. I know I have!

    By the way, you are still involved with acting. You just wrote a script with this post and were the star as I read and envisioned what you were going through and feeling. Bravo!. A fine performance!

    Russ

    • Thanks Russ.

      But I think you’re stalking me! You’ve read all these old pieces — and commented on many of them. Thanks for going into the way-back machine.

      (And I don’t really think you’re a stalker. Or if I do, it’s in a good way!)

  25. twindaddy

    But now you’re a star blogger! That’s so much more important than a star actress. I’m sure all of your classmates will be duly impressed at the next reunion.

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