Cowan Palace: Motherhood, A One Woman Show

Ashley’s back from maternity leave, y’all! Hugs, cuddles, and cupcakes for everyone! And this week she’s bringing Cowan Palace back with a performance log of her new role: Mama.

“Line?” I hear myself call out.

Silence.

“Line? Sorry, can someone please… is anyone there? Line?”

Silence. Then I hear my audience start to cry. I sigh. Where is the stage manager? The audience grows restless and the cry turns into a wail.

“Okay. Improv it is!” I say to myself in encouragement and begin singing another Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. I’ve been trying out Cinderella this week after exhausting Oklahoma!’s score last week. My audience weeps again. My rendition of the duet, “Impossible”, must be leaving something to be desired. While I strive to inspire some kind of emotional response from those that have seen me perform, I’m pretty sure it didn’t always result in bringing them to tears. But I love the challenge!

Perhaps my audience is in need of something more from me.

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When I auditioned for this show, it was a total whim. I hadn’t even prepared a monologue and I did not feel confident about that cold read. I was pretty shocked that the production team had decided to cast me. Sure, my friends asked if I had really read my contract before agreeing to the role but I couldn’t pass up the chance to star in a one woman show! What a part! What an opportunity! What could go wrong?!

They asked how I felt about topless scenes. “Gah, these things?” I mumbled awkwardly, “Nah!” I told them it wasn’t really my thing; could we figure something else out? How about a rewrite? Or a body double? But they promised it would be an honest and potentially beautiful piece in the show. I finally agreed when they let me have control of the lighting and my wardrobe.

And speaking of the wardrobe… no one seems to be cleaning the costumes. They keep getting so dirty and the stains are mounting. Has anyone seen the stage manager? Maybe they can help. Until then, I guess I’ll keep wearing them.

Anyway, it seems that the audience responds to my topless scenes, finding nourishment in the performance. I have to admit, in the beginning, I found this part of the play to be a bit more difficult and physically demanding. But now I’ll throw my shirt off in many public spaces and parking lots if the moment is right. I respect the integrity of the production. Who knew this show would be so freeing! I’m hopeful my songs will one day inspire such a reaction.

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Still, the audience appears to fall asleep after those big scenes. I wish I could fall asleep; this show can certainly be a bit exhausting. Is an actor allowed to sleep when the audience does? Is that a real thing? Though, I can never manage to stay backstage very long. While the audience does not always love my acting, they do seem to love theatre and demand that the show continue.

Also, I’m not here to make waves (I like to save my blades and waves for occasional blogs) but, sometimes I wonder if I should inquire with a union. Most days I work long hours without a break. Sometimes I have to wait a long time to eat something or use the bathroom. Again, I’m not complaining, just wondering if that was hidden in the contract? Hmm, I wish I could find the stage manager and ask them.

I shouldn’t be surprised though considering our tech week. And wow, our final dress was a bit traumatic. I mean, over 36 hours is a long rehearsal, right? But you know what they say, rocky dress, great show! And as soon as we opened, I knew I had found the role of a lifetime.

Yes, the show is a bit more interactive than you’d think (but I was in Tony ‘n Tina’s for years!) and it’s certainly the hardest part I’ve had the chance to do but when I’m out there performing for my small audience, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. So I keep singing. I keep dancing (badly). And I keep giving it all my heart. Because even if the audience is small, they deserve a grand show full of big moments.

Lucky for me, the audience seems to be having a bit more fun these days. Sometimes I see smiles and hear the early attempts of laughter. I’ll get there. The show must go on!

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