Capital Fringe ’14 opens in a month, but in spite of my best intentions, I won’t be taking to the stage this time around. I thought I would be, because I wanted to follow up on the thrills, chills, and spills of my experience last year, which marked the debut of my solo show, “In Search of the Perfect G-String.”
Last fall I convinced myself, “How hard could it be to write a sequel? this time I’d even know what I was doing!” I sent in my application months before the deadline, I wrote frantically; I revised, edited, and paced the rooms of my house. This year’s show would be more personal, more in depth, more….everything! I was excited, and the creative juices were flowing.
Even better, I finally had plenty of time to work on a major new project, since I retired from my 35+ year position with the National Symphony Orchestra at the beginning of 2014. Leisurely days seemed perfect for getting my thoughts on paper, and trying out various scenarios. Life was good.
Around the first of April I set myself the goal of doing a run-through of the show in its then-current state. I had no idea how long the piece was and I wanted to see if the sections would hang together or if I needed different/better transitions. I assembled the props I anticipated using, got out my music and my cello, set up a faux stage, started the stopwatch, and plunged in.
Forty-five minutes later I reached the end, and knew in my heart of hearts that what I had just created was…..
Not that people wouldn’t enjoy the stories, or the music that went with them, but something was very wrong. Why was it so short? Was it structurally weak? Was it too disjointed? Or were the problems even more serious that that? But those kinds of worries were merely my head talking to me.
My gut was telling my something vitally important: the show felt Flat. Empty. Unconvincing.
I put my cello back in its case. I lay on the floor and stared at the ceiling. I may have shed a few tears (or many).
Then, after much soul-searching, I withdrew from CapFringe14. When I called Alex Engel to let her know of my decision, she was very understanding and summed up my fears in a nutshell. “You have to be convinced of the work, or you won’t want to put it on the stage.”
Is it possible I’m not the first Fringer who’s decided to withdraw?
After the initial shock and rejection wore off (yes, rejection: my show rejected me!), it gradually dawned on me that maybe I hadn’t been realistic about writing a new show. “G-string” had germinated a whole year between first draft and first performance; why had I assumed my second venture could be compressed by half? And why had I not taken into account that retirement is A Major Life Adjustment, on a par with marriage, giving birth, or moving to a new city?
So there it is. I’ll be in the Fringe audience this year, not onstage, which will feel a bit strange, though much less stressful.
To everyone who has a production in this year’s Fringe–break a leg! And to anyone who’d like to see “G-String” again, you can watch it online, in an archived performance, because the Kennedy Center let me perform it as part of their Millennium Stage series. Find the link below.
Watch “In Search of the Perfect G-String” from The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage.