quo vadimus

It’s almost here. Tomorrow is the opening of my show Look After You at the New York International Fringe Festival. It feels like only yesterday that I received the acceptance packet in the mail and began this journey, and not long before that when I was staring at a blank page in Final Draft, trying to find the voices for this quartet of characters who have inhabited almost every area of my life recently. Anyone who knows me in the slightest wouldn’t be surprised at my propensity to tear up when speaking about this experience. I still cannot believe that my show was chosen, and standing on the SoHo Playhouse stage on Tuesday during our Technical & Dress Rehearsal still seemed unreal. These characters are like my family, this story has inadvertently become part of my heart & soul and this production team is filled with people I can’t imagine not seeing every damn day. It’s such an honor and a privilege to be taking this journey; I don’t think I’ll ever be able to adequately express my gratitude to those who deserve it.

That said, I am facing a very strange challenge. The difficulty of wanting to simply enjoy an experience but also being incredibly aware of its fragility. Theatre ends, always. A play happens and no matter how hard you try, it can’t stay around forever. Similar to the advice given to a bride before her wedding (it was said to my sister), I am repeatedly told to relish the moment, to take the time to absorb and remember every part of the experience. Even more so with this one since it’s mine, in every way. But somehow I can’t help but also think about what will happen and what might come of it. Will my show sell? Will people like it? And dare I wonder- will there be a chance to move it or do it somewhere else? What doors might it open for me as an actor and/or a writer? Where do we go from here?

Now many friends and loved ones in “the biz” (and outside it too) have warned me about this way of thinking, about letting my mind focus on matters such as these. They are protecting me, I know, from missing the real joy of the work and from any heartache that might come from dashed hopes. But I can’t help it. I am an optimistic girl, dreaming of what might be and many times it comes to fruition. I hear them, I do, and I value their advice. But isn’t it better to not only hope for the best but perhaps prepare for it? Does approaching a situation, or every situation, with pragmatic caution actually cause you to miss out on opportunities or possibilities that would have been available if you were more brazen? I have had great fortune, especially over the last year, but I also work really hard, all the time. I am relentless, voracious.

Forging a career as an artist, like anything, is a mixture of hard work and uncontrollable luck. I’ve been told over and over again that it’s more luck than anything else, and perhaps that is true. But I would like to think that you need to be ready when luck comes around, standing there in the middle of the street flagging it down. You need to be at the top of your game, skills honed and spirit resilient. There’s some expression about opportunity knocking but knocking softly, so listen. Or something infinitely more poetic than that. So I am trying to be that person, the one who plants herself firming in the path of fate. But I’m not only relying on the whirlwind of fortune’s geographical selection. I am going to be ready. More than ready, expecting. Beckoning it with a big-ass bullhorn. Giving it no choice but to find me.

And I promise that I will take the time to cherish what I have in the moment, smile and embrace and take deep breaths, but I’m never going to be satisfied. I have more work to do. I want to tell stories, to share the joys and pains of the human condition, to show that despite everything we all love and mourn in the same way. Because, as is one of the messages of my play, you just never know how much time you have left. I know this, I feel it personally. So you have to make it count. I’m closing with a few quotes I found that have helped me in my writing, thoughts that stayed with me.

Be brave and fearless, I believe in you,

L

“Early on a difficult climb, especially a solo climb, you’re hyper-aware of the abyss pulling at your back, constantly feeling its call, its immense hunger. To resist takes tremendous conscious effort, you don’t dare let your guard down for an instant. The void puts you on edge, makes your movements tentative and clumsy. But as the climb continues, you grow accustomed to the exposure, you get used to rubbing shoulders with doom, you come to believe in the reliability of your hands and feet and head. You learn to trust your self-control.”
Jon Krakauer


“Mountains are not fair or unfair, they are just dangerous.”
~Reinhold Messner

I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

1 Comment

  1. Long Huynh
    August 20, 2009

    Louise,

    This is a late comment since your show has been played last week. I hope that you did enjoy the moment and everything associated with the show. Anyway, I find this post here so thoughtful and exquisite that I reread a few times and have the urge to share my thought on the 2 questions that you raised:

    1. But isn’t it better to not only hope for the best but perhaps prepare for it? I guess the answer is Yes and No. Yes, it’s better to prepare for the future. Not only that it would help you get ready to answer the call when opportunity knocks (or to flag down the opportunity car when it runs by), but it also give you Hope and Dream, 2 precious feelings that don’t come to you uninvited. However, if this preparation for the future becomes a preoccupation to the point that you forget to savour the moment, then NO, it’s not better. It’s important to consciously live the present moment. The best of both worlds is to let yourself filled with all the emotions of the present (tearful joy, anxiety and estasy) as well as of the future (sense of purpose, satisfying feeling of controlling your destiny, hopeful anticipation). The more emotions that you can deal with at any moment in time, the richer your life experience would be. And I sense that you are more than capable to handle and enjoy them all.

    2. Does approaching a situation, or every situation, with pragmatic caution actually cause you to miss out on opportunities or possibilities that would have been available if you were more brazen? Well, it’s again depends on your definition of “pragmatic” and “brazen”. If pragmatic means “play it safe” and brazen means “reckless abandon”, then the answer lies somewhere between them. I am a believer of “pushing the envelop”, otherwise how would I know the limits in order to mazimize my potentials?

    P.S. I find the quote from Rainer Maria Rilke very apropos.

    Reply

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