I’ve left LA. For now, at least. It was a big decision, but one that had to be made. “The choice may have been mistaken, the choosing was not. You have to move on.”
16 years on the West Coast. 11 in Manhattan. Now I’m in West Texas. I’m grateful to my father for all he has done to make this possible. I begin the journey into my advanced degree in August. Who woulda thunk it? The house was sold with relative ease. After all these months of arguing with Skank of America, they moved rather quickly to approve the sale. I’m still deliberating whether to pursue them further for all the heartache, hardship, stress and mental trauma they added to my life due to their machinations. But that’s a tale for another time.
I left Hollywood right at the beginning of pilot season. I stumbled into telling my agents. I planned to go into the office and break the news. But they called about some technical issue and I had to explain it didn’t make sense for me to correct it since I wouldn’t be in LA after February.
Now I’m in suburbia – on a street I’ve described to my friends as one waiting for Drew Barrymore and Henry Thomas to cruise by mid-air on their bicycles. I’m contemplating buying a Big Wheel to take advantage of the open sidewalks.
The West Texas weather is nuts. I know this is no surprise to anyone familiar with this part of the country, but I’ve never lived in this part of the state. I kid you not, my first week here I experienced 70 degree temperatures, hail, 60 mile an hour winds, snow and rainstorms. In a week.
I’m excited for school. My first goal is my Masters in Theatre. Eventually I would like to have my PhD. Doctor Rapstine sounds good; it has a certain elegant ring. And I’d be the first “Dr.” in the family. Just not, as my friend J pointed out, the kind that helps people.
School will be a challenge, I am sure. But it’s a challenge into which I am ready to enter. I find people who state “I’m taking some time for ME” to be really tiresome. But honestly, returning to school is a selfish act. After all I’ve experienced in the last ten years, I had to re-examine what brings me happiness. The answer was and is: a life in the theatre. I re-discovered how it nourished me when I was 14. Yeah, yeah – I started writing plays and producing them in the living room when I was still in grade school. But it wasn’t until I had my first REAL acting role (John Worthing in Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” directed by my first high school drama teacher Mr. Hamby – those of you who know me well will see how it comes full circle) that I found HOME.
I love the social aspects of theatre. I love rehearsal. I love showing up to rehearsal early and gabbing with colleagues. I love discovery. I love script analysis. I love solving technical problems of blocking and business. I love tech. I love costumes, and costume fittings and seeing renderings of sets. I love sneaking into the scene shop to watch the design springing to life. I love cue-to-cue lighting rehearsals. I love costume fittings, seeing a concept moving from lines on paper to clothing that informs character. In my undergraduate days, the genius costume historian and faculty head Paul D. Reinhardt used to insist on “Costume Parade” as part of tech rehearsals. Do folks still do Costume Parades? For PDR, it was a chance to see all the work together on the set, under the lights and on the actors. He would critique and adjust, coordinate with the lighting designer and director in order to insure the costumes did what they needed to do, looked how they needed to look and served the actor in all the right ways. I LOVED Costume Parades.
I love tech rehearsals. If I’m the director, I love seeing what the designers have done to realize the vision we have found to express the play. If I’m an actor, I’ll sit in the audience to watch the magic of the lights and scenic elements as they are added to the production. I’ll see what the lights can teach me about how the director and designers understand the project – how can that inform my work? I always learn something new. Another great teacher I had in undergraduate school, Dr. David Nancarrow, taught me the power of lights and reflection for an individual actor. He instructed us as to the reflective possibilities of an actor on stage – he saw us as instruments OF light, not just actors TO light. That concept has served me well. Seeing the other actors in costume from the audience can inform the choices I make as an actor in scenes with them. Can their costume inspire new pieces of business, the nature of our relationship, what I want or need from them? Seeing the set under lights from the audience perspective can inform entrances, exits, business, character . . . yeah. I love the process of theatre. I had to spend some time in Hollywood to discover that.
So school. Yes. Hell, YES. I’m nervous and excited and ready.
But first, six months of spring and summer and adjusting to a new home. The adventure begins.