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emperors new clothes.jpg

The flurry of press about LIZZIE yesterday, and it being World Theater Day, has me reflecting. This photo is ground zero — not that my theater career is a nuclear bomb. But there is a sense that it is about to explode.

My mantra for a long time — I’ll call it my post-disillusionment period — has been, “Relax. It’s always more likely NOT to happen than to happen.” Because that is true. My favorite Buddhist lo jong mind-training slogan is, “Abandon any hope of fruition.” Pretty often people read this slogan on my arm and think it means that everything is awful so just expect the worst. It means something more like, “You don’t know how things will turn out, so don’t base your happiness and sense of well-being on a particular outcome.”

Anyway, that’s me in my first play! It was a production of The Emperor’s New Clothes, produced by Putnam County Playhouse, in the Indiana town where my family moved when I was 13. They did — and still do! — a season of 3 or 4 plays every summer: a musical, one or two straight plays, and a children’s show. I had I think one line, maybe two, and I was SERIOUS about it, and I loved that costume, which I think my mother made but I’m not sure of that.

Something I remember, more clearly than I remember anything I did in the play, is this very short scene where a “herald” comes in and announces something and the director, Nancy McFarland, set his lines to music, so he sang them instead of just speaking them. It blew my mind that one could just … do that.