RE(nt) – Cap (Pieces of Me)

Posted: November 16, 2009 in Road to RENT

November 8, 2009

“Everybody listen, because this may NEVER happen again…”

The heavenly voice stood poised to give an epic speech. As she rested her right hand on the lid of the piano she twitched, slightly, as she awaited our silence. Cameras and camera phones were fixed on her image waiting to take in the monumental moment:

“I just wanted to say that you people are so freaking awesome…”

Slight giggles escaped some while others sat, crossed legged, as she continued her decree:

“You make me forget who the original characters are. You are the greatest people ever!”

I sat back and surveyed my environment.

Some individuals looked stunned at the declaration while others sat in quiet admiration. The heavenly voice made her way to her seat, inches away from me, and I stared at her deep in wonderment. I began to play with my thoughts:

On the outside her exterior seemed so tough, in your face, but I could see passed that. She was nothing more than a Care Bear, Tender Heart Bear to be exact. Her heart rang out as loud as her tender voice with each exploding with love and desiring that love in return.

I smirked, shyly, and equated her speech as the sum for the night.

It was if a drug deal had gone bad. Once enclosed, hiding our true selves from the world, we became one another’s addiction, our contents freely spreading, each of us resembling echoing walls of another’s laughter.

The music director stood at attention in front of us. His head tilted upwards as he tried to place himself between our shouts of joy. He injected his requests for silence in us as an attempt to make himself the antidote that would relieve us of our addictive behaviors – uncontrollable laughter.

I could see that his patience was being sliced thin as he took into account the challenge the song was to bring – 5 separate phrases, sung by varying members, depicting separate scenes, yet, sung at the exact same time.

It had the potential of being a formula for beauty or wreckage bringing about utter chaos. And although it eventually came together like a perfectly choreographed ballet, it had its stints of hilarity in between.

Heavenly voice tried to explain the meaning of a phrase only to be blasted with a stint of voluntary Tourettes. The high soprano, who stood next to me in Seasons of Love, repeated a phrase, in a rapid pace, at the heavenly voice, that sent us all into a pandemonium hysterics:

“Hats, Dats, Bats, Hats, Dats, Bats, Hats, Dats, Bats…”

Her eyes grew extremely wide and her head twitched as if she had no control of her neck muscles.

Already trying to contain myself for the music director’s sanity, I completely lost all control of my bowels as she replaced the phrase with words of her own vulgarities- words that rivaled that of the scene from Deuce Bigalow’s .

I edged my way over to a nearby chair, my torso hinged over and my abdomen filled with an increasingly growing pain. My stomach banged up against my intestines and in return they punched my bladder. Pretty soon I felt myself trying to constrict my pelvis muscles in order to escape embarrassment.

I was only slightly successful.

A few drops escaped.

I rejoined the group, shared in a few more moments of insanity and we all left that day, five pounds lighter and intermingled amongst one another in pure, holistic laughter.

November 11, 2009

Sometimes it is when we are silent that the most is said…

I took an empty chair, three seats in, and cradled within myself. Due to a lack of sleep, my body had devised his own rituals against me in order to accommodate its need for rest. Nausea crept in on my stomach and the lights, though dimmer than most, assaulted my eyes as my head pounded rhythmically. I could feel myself in a losing battle as I repositioned my legs to make myself more uncomfortable.

I needed to stay awake.

The music director moved passed me.

Looking in my direction, unaccustomed to me portraying a feeble existence, he interrupted the melody my body sang to me lulling me off to sleep:

“Are you okay?”

Half squinting and barely moving my head, I responded, strained vocals peaking out of my throat:

“Uh, yeah, I’m just not all here.”

Passing it over as a joke he replied:

“Yeah me either, I haven’t been all here for years.”

I made an unsuccessful attempt to laugh as the main director called us to the stage.

I slumped up the steps and took my place on the floor, on the outskirts of an arc of people, and sat waiting to begin, even more, waiting for the rest of the crew.

Keeping a watchful eye on the door, I couldn’t help but anticipate the arrival of my remaining cast mates. The few who were there began to rehearse the song and I, half-heartedly, joined in.

Being fortunate to not have many parts in the song being sung, I tried my best to fill in for the missing vocals.

I tore into bass, tickled the soprano range and retreated into alto when it became too much. I stated the phrases that needed saying, joining in on the collected whispers of the present members, and tried to fill other roles as best I could. While these attempts had sufficed before, for some reason, somehow, it just wasn’t working anymore.

I retreated backstage and sat in a chair trying to fit the pieces together.

Is it because I am ridiculously exhausted? Do I feel left out because I don’t get to sing as much in this song?

The first question that popped into my head was probable, while the second was absurd. I readily bragged that this song was my saving grace. Every little part that I did say was directly tied to the melody and my cues came from the last phrases of other characters.

I was golden.

And as I sat on the outskirts of the stage, waiting for my cue to enter, still writhing in confusion, I did my best to admire the action in front of me.

My Seasons of Love partner was flawlessly singing and acting through her part.

As she displayed her imaginary merchandise, trying to entice the dark-haired dude and his stage lover, basement voice – singing notes so deep that only the depths of the earth could house them – glowing wedding ring tore at her booth.

They engaged in a tug o’ war as she wrestled her fake, already once stolen, property from his hands and shot him scornful looks at his lack of compunction.

I smiled deeply as I replaced the empty spaces with images of my own. I tried to laugh, giving them a full out appreciate]ive salute, but my grip for a chortle only clanged against an emptiness I felt within.

What is this? What is wrong with me?

I shook the cobwebs from my mind, dusted away my hollow feelings and tried to bring my sadistic character to life.

I carefully followed the main director as if he were Peter Pan and I one of the lost boys. I tried to implant myself in his mind to grasp a better concept of his vision. I asked questions, tip-toed around and threw myself into his guidance.

I imagined the bags I was to hold as I leapt atop an imaginary table taunting the lowlifes. I even climbed an imaginary ladder, warding off beggars as if they were trying to invade my HeMan Woman Haters Clubhouse.

It was all too easy.

Then, as action was needed, the tussles that called for physical contact, I knew what was wrong with me. And though I had given a half-hearted answer, not fully knowing what had overtaken me, I knew that my words to the music director were truer than I could have hoped for.

The first person tore at my arm, twisting me to her attention as her eyes begged me for help. Before I could respond, warding her off and reprimanding her to touching me another hand ripped at my right arm, causing a slight ache to race up my collar bone. I knew the face and I fixed myself to deny his needs. Finally, a third hand grabbed my upper right bicep and twisted me one hundred and eighty degrees to face him.

I sharply turned, knowing who was vying for my attention. I fixed my face, conjured up an emotion to set their wants aside and then, like coming in contact with a deadly snake, I gasped. My head repeated my phrase and I knew it to be true.

I was not all there.

I looked for the colorful hoodie, only to find the main director taking her place in proxy. As my skin readjusted to the imprint he had left, I couldn’t help but think:

Would she do it that way? Would her grasp match his? Where is she?

I turned to other empty spaces that were supposed to be filled by able bodies. I was told to imagine them there but, unlike objects that did not yet exist, I couldn’t.

They weren’t all there and I couldn’t substitute them.

Because they physically existed, somewhere, someplace, I could not make them up.

I stared wide eyed and paralyzed and, with my head betraying my stiffened stance, I tried to place the missing members still.

Puffs of images appeared and then slowly faded away. Their laughter, smiles, frustrations and fears were memories that I tried to breathe life into in their absence.

I couldn’t.

Mental replacements would not suffice.

It was as if listening for the warm gentle laugh of a child only to receive whimpers. It was savoring your favorite meal, looking to that last morsel to top off its soothing emotional comfort, only to be robbed of the pleasure as someone dumps cow dung onto your plate.

It was a beautiful spring day, only to be plagued by thoughts of a harsh unforgivable winter.

Although I had fashioned myself as an appendix, easily removed upon agitation, I still needed a body to function.

I needed my arms for a gentle warm embrace, I needed my legs to keep up with my heart as love quickened its pace. I needed my eyes to behold the smallest fragments of splendor, my ears to hear, my nose to smell and my fingers to toss in the air as I proclaimed a sweet surrender.

I simply couldn’t imagine body parts, people that readily lived.

And as the main director continued to place missing bodies into empty spaces, I held back my torment and a passion to yell for him to stop.

How could he try to fit a prosthetic leg on a person with able, functional limbs? How could he try to force a glass eye into a socket that was already filled, sight being undeterred? Why did he feel the need to call on medical machines to help the lungs breathe, the heart beat and the kidney’s to function?

We didn’t need the help, they all existed. They were fully functional. They just simply weren’t there.

That is when I found myself on life support.

My body was failing and the missing members were the cause of my ailing heart. I looked over at the emotional IV plugged into my arm trying to feed me secondary nutrients.

I swiped at it.

I could eat myself, my mouth was able and willing, but without the rest of my body parts in place it seemed too insignificant to engage in chewing.

And although I was still able to function as best as I could, I couldn’t help but feel the phantom pain of the cast mates that were suppose to create one body, one spirit, one soul and one vision on stage.

So, instead of being able to fully operate throughout the rehearsal, and giving up on all attempts to substitute for living body parts, I acted as a fish with one fin.

In a pool of longing, I swam in desperate circles waiting for the rest of my body, my cast mates, to come together and function as a whole.


Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.  ~Lamartine

Without You/The Moon Glows/The River Flows/But I Die Without You  ~Jonathan D. Larson “RENT”


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