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The Old Guy at the Cast Party

Last night I had the privilege of seeing Jaimie play Juliet. I’m not going to go full review of the production, but it was a great night in the park. I will say that Jaimie was incredible. So vibrant and in love. So human and believable. Her monologue in the bedroom deciding whether or not to go through with taking the poison was dramatic and vulnerable and terrifying and brave. I’m so glad I got to go and if you’re in Greenville through June 16th you should made it down to Falls Park too.

After the show I went out with the cast. Thirty of us headed to a restaurant on the West End. I started having panic attacks for the waiter who was about to have us dropped into their lap at 10 o’clock at night. It would have made me go to walk in cooler and hide out with the Blue Cheese dressing. Not our waitress though- she was a machine. She took us out back and tamed us. It was a sight to behold, and afterwards I convinced her to become the twenty-second Democrat to run for the presidency.

I’m usually apprehensive about hanging out with casts of plays I’m not a part of. When I’m in a play I don’t want to talk to the boyfriend of person I’ve been acting with. I want to talk to my cast mates. I want to relive the excitement. I want to drink with my friends from the trenches. This is difficult for me, considering I don’t drink and I only do plays with one person. My cast parties usually consist of Cashew Milk Ice Cream and two episodes of The Americans instead of one.

My ex-wife started to do improv towards the end of our relationship. I used to meet her at the bar after their shows, and I have never more felt like a social leper in my life. I was a stand up at the time, a no body in the world of improv. I could do nothing for the person I was talking to and they knew it and it showed. I actually used to feel bad when people got stuck talking to me. I couldn’t help them get on a team. I couldn’t participate in the jokes. One time my ex and I were talking with someone, she went to use the bathroom, and it was just me and the guy. It was horrible. He was trying to be nice and finish the conversation while at the same time looking for someone who could actually help his career. I had just had a really great set somewhere and was feeling confident, so I told him he could go. He was like, “What!? No!” And I was like, “Yeah, I’ll be fine.” I know he didn’t, but in my mind he mouthed the words “Thank You” as he slipped into the sea of aspiring Yes And’ers.

This was not the case last night. Everyone was lovely. I watched basketball with the dude who played Capulet. I chatted with Romeo and Mercutio. We walked back to the car with the guy who played Paris.

Something did strike me about twenty minutes into the hang- Holy Shit was I older than most of those people! It was hilarious! I told one of the guys good show and he asked what I did. I told him I teach theatre at the Fine Arts Center and he said, “Oh you know my best friend!” He wasn’t talking about one of the faculty members. It was one of my students! Not even a senior! A sophomore! There were two times I asked people where they went to school and they told me where they went to high school because they had not yet gone to college! These people weren’t being nice to me- they were respecting their elders. Their elders being me!

I’m only half serious, of course. There were people older than me, Thank God. And the youngsters weren’t simply being polite. Being a good girlfriend, Jaimie had talked me up, and they seemed genuinely interested in the strange things I do.

And being older than most of the people had other advantages. Three of my students were involved in the production, two from the FAC and one from Furman. It was wonderful to see their work, to watch them get to know Jaimie. It was also really exciting to be around all that youthful theatrical energy. I used to have it in spades. It’s what has propelled me for 25 years. It’s dimmed slightly, but it’s still there, pushing me forward. It keeps me writing and performing and producing no matter what else is going on in my life. It was cool to see that spirit alive and well in my hometown. To know that my life was changed by it, and that these young artists might be changed my it too. And who knows, maybe I might have some small part in keeping that flame lit for these people coming ever so quickly behind me.


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