On the Spot

For a little over a month now, the Tuesdays at Nine cold reading series, of which I’m co-creative director, has been taking place online via the Zoom platform.  (Hopefully, at this point, it’s clear why we’re doing so – if not, either Governor Cuomo, Dr. Anthony Fauci, or Brad Pitt will be happy to explain things to you.) It seems we’re doing so successfully – we’ve had over a hundred Zoom participants this week, which is close to the capacity of the theater where we usually meet.  It speaks to the strength of our community, that we continue to come together despite the fearful uncertainty of the times, and the obstacle that have been placed before us all.

Of course, a substantial number of those participants are actors who come to Tuesdays with the expectation of participating in the cold readings.  Attempting to accommodate as many of them as possible is a substantial part of my job, and since we’ve moved to online readings I’ve considered it the primary part of my job.  We’re coming together each week, after all, in large part to check in on each other and make sure we’re okay.  Towards that end, I’ve been selecting pieces to read based on who in our talent pool hasn’t read yet in our online format.  The pieces have been smaller than usual, to account for the nature of the online platform, so it’s been taking time, but I’ve been methodically going through our actors to make sure they’re all seen.

A plan that had a monkey wrench thrown into it last week, when one of our writers requested that I perform.

It’s strange – before I was appointed to my current position, when I was just another actor in the throng, I obsessed over stage time as much as anybody.  It’s a perfectly natural feeling, and one exacerbated by the nature of our community – there’s a lot of us, and getting to everybody is hard.  So much so that my own stage time – at least on Tuesday nights – is the absolute last thing on my mind.  There are too many other talented performers I need to keep happy, too many writers to whom I need to give a forum – and the odds of those two goals lining up exactly is slim to none as it is.  And besides, I’m already hosting these events – I’m talking plenty.  For any given role, there’s half a dozen people I’m thinking of, and trying to be fair to, and I’m not generally considering myself as one of them.

But the writer insisted.

And as it happened, the role in question was right within my wheelhouse.  And I’m not made of stone, after all.

I’m happy to report that the feedback was positive from my unexpected star turn last week.  At least from the people who gave me any sort of feedback – it’s entirely possible that any hard feelings simply weren’t expressed to me.  It’s also equally possible that those hard feelings are simply projections on my part, crafted by a guilty conscience that’s second-guessing itself, as it tries to juggle a dozen things at once.

I’ve got a lot on my mind these days, after all.

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