Visit the Boston Playwrights' Theatre Web site for information about our programs, tickets, and more!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lazarus and her old squeeze

Ginger Lazarus was recently on the writing team of Malarkey Films’ Ourmageddon, which won four awards at the recent Boston 48-Hour Film Fest. She’s also preparing her script The Embryos for its world premiere later this year at Fresh Ink Theatre, but her current gig is as actor in 2010: Our Hideous Future (written and directed by BTM vet Carl Danielson, with music and lyrics by Andy Hicks)...

This summer, I’m spending my days revising and my evenings in rehearsal -- for a show I didn’t write. It seems I am a playwright who acts.

BPT boasts several graduates who distinguish themselves professionally as both writers and actors: John Kuntz, Melinda Lopez, Richard Snee, Steve Barkhimer, Wes Savick, Rick Park, Emily Kaye Lazzaro. If you want sparkling insights on how one career informs the other, you should ask them. Acting for me is not a career. It’s more of a mid-life crisis.

Actually, it was how I started. In middle school and high school, acting was my “thing,” my squeeze, my dream, my claim to fame. And then senior year, I wrote and put on my own play -- and discovered the far more omnipotent thrill of crafting the stories and making other people act in them. Playwriting became my new love. Acting and I had a protracted and bittersweet breakup (kept taking classes in college, but rarely got cast), while playwriting and I went steady for many years until I popped the question and got a piece of paper from BU to make it all official. I never really considered acting again.

Ginger Lazarus
Until Carl Danielson had to go and bring pieces of his new musical (2010: Our Hideous Future) to Rhombus, our playwrights’ group. Occasionally we playwrights call on each other to perform when we don’t have enough real actors to read all the parts. I was already having way too much fun with that—and then, as I started getting into the readings of Carl’s totally outlandish near-futuristic dystopian comedy, a little voice started up inside my head: “Why don’t I do this anymore?” (This was a few months after the birth of my second child, when my days were still zombie walks of sleep deprivation, so clearly delirium played a role.) That nagging voice kept growing, and growing, and finally blatted out, “I’m going to audition!”

I forgot the words to my audition song, was cast anyway, and spent the first several rehearsals wondering if my no-longer-20-something brain had atrophied past all hope, for the old actor’s nightmare of having no clue what I was supposed to do on stage seemed to be coming true. I got over it, performed in a hit show (revived several times, and touring this summer), and then did a few more. Seems acting and I are finally back together again.

I have zero ambition to act professionally, or even consistently. When my own work goes into production, it takes priority. Playwriting’s my job; acting my diversion. It’s fun. It’s addicting. It’s scary as hell, but also way less pressure than creating the entire world of the play.

Going back to acting feels a little like hooking up with an old sweetheart. Which seems to be okay with playwriting (and also, amazingly, with my husband, who puts the kids to bed alone through every production week). Even more than okay. Something about singing and prancing around on stage has freed up my voice on the page. It’s no mystery: whether written, spoken, or sung, the voice comes from the body. Acting, even for fun, keeps me in the practice of laying myself bare, risking ridicule, being vulnerable and exposed. Because of my acting habit, my writing takes bigger chances. There’s plenty of love to go round.

Read more about 2010: Our Hideous Future on the show's official Web site...

No comments:

Post a Comment