RE(nt) Cap – (Vulnerable)

Posted: December 14, 2009 in Road to RENT

December 9, 2009

It was more terrifying than standing naked in a room polluted with judgmental gawkers. The repercussions were more incapacitating on the emotions than an anesthetic lent to the limbs. Even the scalpel itself, gliding through the skin like a knife through dough, was more comforting. And to make matters worse, I had asked for it.

Better yet, I had practiced for it.

I stared into the director’s face, forcing approval in him with my thoughts. I studied his expressions and continually clanged against a stainless steel wall that was his glare, blank, his lips unmoving and his eyebrows fixed in one position, trying to peer through the beanie on his head.

I could see his mind moving as he, slightly, paced within a three foot box, never getting so close as to caress the barriers. My chest heaved as I awaited his words to rip the silence, my hopes hammering against my rib cage as I clawed at self-assurance.

The wait was taking me under. To slow dance in a cornfield of needles, disguised as leaves, would have been more pleasurable. I silently requested for him to say something, to do something, anything.

He broke through his enclosure, placing one hand upon the stage in front of me. I pushed the corners of my lips towards my ears and tried to smile through hesitant eyes. His arm was now anchoring his weight as he thrust his foot onto the stage. Before I could fully blink, reconnecting my eyes with moisture, he was mere inches from my face, preparing himself to speak.

My throat was too dry to swallow and my feelings too paralyzed to react. The only thing I could engage was my mind. It offered a temporary, sweet release:

The colorful hoodie…

I walked down an aisle, my right knee bumping against velvety red seats, my focus on the colorful hoodie seated in contentment. Since the first day I saw her, standing on stage, dawning a jacket that I envied to possess, she intrigued me. There was just something about her that spoke of life, adventure, spontaneity and fun.

As her image drew nearer, my once shallow emotions now full of life, I plopped next to her:

“So what’s new in your world?”

My brain beat against my skull, begging her not to render a short answer and ask me the same:

What was I to say, I still find string interesting and it can produce hours of imaginative fun?

I slid down in the auditorium chair and rested my feet on the one ahead of me. With my head turned to the right, looking upon the colorful hoodie with a contorted stupor, I awaited her response.

“Oh nothing really…”

My organs dropped an inch lower in my body as I knew I would have to try and carry the conversation. She was one of the few cast members I had yet to have a quiet discussion with and I had no idea where to take us. I braced myself for the tug-o-war and opened up my mind to retrieve a topic. Just as I got to my minds door, she broke in.

She spoke of her senior year in college, her hopes for the future and her revelations within her craft.

I smiled in appreciation.

As her words sprang forth out of her well of experience, I dipped my bucket into every sentence trying to taste the purity.  She flavored a taste of life into everything she said and her passion lifted me out of the seat.

I smiled once again.

And if listening to the colorful hoodie wasn’t helium enough, beanie torn pants joined in.

I took the notion of retreating back within myself, blending into the chair and immersing myself, from the outside, into whatever the colorful hoodie and beanie torn pants were to take me. I knew their bond was strong; therefore, I was all too receptive of enjoying the quiet adoration they held for each other as an outsider; however, my idea was in vain.

Beanie torn pants flowed right into the conversation as a river does into the sea, no dissonance detected.

Soon all three of us were traveling down a familiar road. As the wind, created in their breath, breezed through my scalp, I took flight in their union. They reminisced about the audition process and I wrapped myself in the excitement of them placing me above my amateur status; however, they seemed flabbergasted at the news.

I silently thanked them, my eyes gently closing upon one another, for seeing something in me. And when it came time to re-enter the stage, I tore at the color hoodie’s knowledge, capitalizing on her breakthrough with casting first impressions:

“Hey, um, you saw me at the auditions right?”

She nodded, I continued:

“Well, you know more about this than me, and you spoke of your own process, but, do you have any tips that I could use?”

She looked at me like I had punched her in the gut:

“No, dude, you did fine, and you did that back flip. The point of auditioning is to be remembered, right, and you very well did that.”

I smiled, teeth hidden, and hugged her uplifting words:

Yeah, I guess the point is just to be remembered.

I fixed my mind to reminisce further, but then, as the main director stood in front of me, artillery loaded, I prayed that his guns would jam or that rubber bullets were to be fired, bouncing off of me and giving me a chance to recover from the blows.

I couldn’t run, or hide for I had brought my stance to his attention and agreed to stand before the judge.

He hesitated a bit. That gave me one last chance to review my case.

I retreated into one final memory, forgiving myself for throwing me at the mercy of the court:

What were you thinking?

I saw the main and assistant directors having a discussion. The night was one big collaborative spur of the moment rehearsal; therefore, the directors readily switched up the selections, going over pieces that needed polishing and staging. I, in all my excitement, hanging by the golden rope of the moment, finally nailing my solo after rearranging the notes in my repertoire, decided to steal a flash of the director’s time:

“Hey, um, excuse…”

They spoke a few more words, finishing up their train of thought, and turned their focus to me. I proceeded:

“Is there any way we can rehearse the Life Support song tonight, you know, since I have worked on a new angle for my character?”

The main director, with excitement in his voice, readily agreed.

I was elevated, for I had practiced. And as the main director began to finally part his lips, seeing the character which I had erected, I practiced my death crawl:

“Hey, um, Jeremy…”

My eyebrows mouthed yes, the main director moved forward as I emotionally squinted, waiting for the sudden blow:

“I like where you are going with the character, however, that was…”

I interrupted, looking overboard:

“Too much?”

He soothed me over:

“Well, yeah, but there are some moments in there that I really like, however, for the rest, take it out of your face and put the tension into your body.”

I stared blankly into his face, blanketing myself with his words hoping for them to absorb into my skin. He didn’t fire bullets at all; the objects that sprang out of his barrel felt more like uplifting hands. With a deep breath, coupled by the release of pressure I had uselessly built up within myself, I retreat back stage to try again. I was met by beanie torn pants:

“It’s really cool how you have the two different characters to play.”

I nodded:

“Yeah, the contrast is amazing. It’s a great challenge.”

He nodded. I smiled, appreciating his encouragement, and then began to dress in my thoughts:

Okay, take it out of the face and put the tension in your body. You can do it; you just have to reformat what you have practiced and arrange it into something less cynical.

My body began to tremble as I tried to steal the feelings from my face and place them into my limbs. The words of the director resonated in my body, causing my right foot to arch and stutter.

It was the most vulnerable feeling I have had in a long time. I felt inadequate yet sufficient in every way. I didn’t know what the director saw, or what his thoughts designed me in. Without a mirror to mimic my motions, I walked back on stage, blindly, and did my best to hush my fretfulness.

I was totally at the mercy of images I could not see.

My body quaked uncontrollably with my thoughts calling it into subjection. And just as I called myself to attention, I found the feeling amazingly familiar.

It was like reaching the finished line, staring at the scoreboard anticipating the results, the race so tight no human eye can detect the victor. It’s that feeling you get as only two contenders hail the mat, the announcer portraying:

“Only one hundredth of a point separates our top two competitors.”

Your mind races towards any possible mistake you could have made, wondering if you were the one who killed the edge.  Except now, in this case, the emotions came before the results.

Everything I did was at the mercy of one man, one vision and one collective effort.


I felt alive, rejuvenated, reborn, relieved that I was finally wading in a cesspool of possibilities, with all things possible.

The earthquake in my limbs was destroying everything I had erected, leaving me with the rubble that would soon contain newly formed buildings of self-assurance, self-awareness and self-preservation. I would be left to constantly rebuild, re-dress and renew myself until beauty screamed from every corner, presenting the manifestation of what I or the characters I embarked upon wanted to portray.

On stage I could be anything and everything the moment called for me to be, destroying and re-creating new emotional structures.

It was the greatest, most terrifying, highly empowering and self – assuring state of vulnerability I had ever felt.

It was better than being naked.


“If you really do want to be an actor who can satisfy himself and his audience, you need to be vulnerable. [You must] reach the emotional and intellectual level of ability where you can go out stark naked, emotionally, in front of an audience.”

~ Jack Lemon


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