I am soooo excited about this opportunity to blog about the amazing time I'm having here on B'way and share a little of what my days are like as an actor here in the city! So, its Monday, which is usually the "Day of Rest" for the theatre, but Race is on a brand-new summer schedule, so we get Sunday's off instead of Mondays so we have a show tonight. The change took a little bit of getting used to because it feels like my body is programmed to shut down on Mondays! But the really cool part is that I will finally have the chance to see other Broadway shows on a Sunday matinee, YAY!
My mother visited this past weekend from my hometown, Toledo, OH. We are really close, so I always have fun hanging out with her. The last time she was here was in February when I went on as an understudy for the first time. So this was her first time seeing the show with the new cast and seeing my name in lights! Every time I see a poster in the subway or walk up to the theatre and see my name a block away, its surreal, like,"WOW, Is this really happening?!?... I mean, this has happened! O.M.G." It's like at that moment nothing else matters, and I can't wipe the huge grin off of my face. But that's nothing compared to what I felt standing outside the theatre about an hour or so before the show, watching my mom take it all in. It was priceless. She had that same huge grin on her face, combined with a coupla tears. Which of course, made me cry! Hahaha! How is it that moms have the power to do that? All of a sudden I was like 5 years old again. It was such a special moment.
So here we were standing outside of the theatre wiping tears, and my mom is giving me "orders" to take pictures of her in front of my picture and I'm snapping away, as she does this pose, and that...And this guy with this huge camera around his neck and backpack to match is looking at the picture, then looking at me, then says, in a thick, beautiful accent, "It that you?" and before I can answer, my mom (in mid-pose) says, "Yes, Yes..that's her! This is my baby girl on this poster!" The guy then goes on to tell me that he's visiting from Spain and he an actor over there. He tells us how much he loves David Mamet and how he's been reading his work and heard the show was "so intense." I explained the play to him and told him he should definitely try and check it out, but he was worried that it would be too fast for him to understand because his English was not that good. He thought it was so cool that I got to actually work with Mamet in rehearsals (which was indeed a super cool and unforgettable experience). In the end he said he might try and get tickets, but I figured he was so concerned about not understanding, that he probably wouldn't come. After the show, I came outside and was signing autographs and taking pictures with audience members (all of which, still blows my mind because it seems like just yesterday I was sitting in the audience with them watching the show as the understudy), and out of nowhere comes the "backpack guy" from before and he's telling me I did a great job and the show was amazing! I couldn't believe he had come, and he said although he understood only "50/50," he got all of the depth of the issues and said he could tell what all of it meant to the characters and that he was so very glad he had the opportunity to meet me and that I explained the plot to him. He said that even though he could not understand every single word, the theme was universal. He told me it was his first Broadway play and ended by thanking me and the cast for one of the most exhilarating nights of his life. WOW.
My heart was so full on the way home. I am constantly in awe of the power of theatre and the amazing opportunity that I am granted every night on that stage. The importance of theatre is so often overlooked that this small encounter with an audience member and (fellow actor) reminded me why I love my job so very much. The mysterious "Backpack Guy" made my night.
So far today has been pretty low key. I had a great workout. Responded to a massive pile-up of emails that had been collecting dust on my account! I've been reading a couple of scripts to prepare for some auditions later on in the week. They are really good, so I am super excited! Even though I now have a show on Mondays, I still treat the early part of the day as sort of an extension of my day off. I try and relax and get as much rest as possible before the 8 show week really gets underway. Mondays are also cool because as a cast, we have a line-thru around 6 o'clock to keep us on our toes and get our heads back in the game after the day off. We usually sit in the Green Room and just do a speed thru/line thru of the script. Because of the quick intellectual and rhythmic pattern of Mamet's writing, it is the ultimate warm-up! And really keeps us connected and in-sync as an ensemble. So, it's about that time for me to pack my bag and head out to the theatre. One day off is definitely enough for me, I get restless and anxious to get back onstage! Another night at the Barrymore -- super amped and ready to GO!
Afton C. Williamson