I did a lot of community theater growing up. It's a fantastic community in which to be a gawky teenage girl (or for that matter, a deeply closeted teenage boy), full of instant intimacy with strangers and the kind of validation and affirmation you can't beat with a stick. Where else in life can you get applauded on a regular basis?
My family got into theater along with me, and after I departed for college and became a Massive Political Tool, they stayed with it. When my father and sister performed in a production of Evita my freshman year, I went home to catch the show. The night ended with a cast party at the Aut Bar, a downtown gay club where the cast and their families gathered. As I sat between by dad and my grandfather in a gay bar crowded with blue collar workers and Burns Park academics, I was struck with the thought of how unlikely this scenario would be if I had taken up another hobby, say soccer, as a child.
Last night, bearing photocopied sheet music and a childhood of memories, I auditioned for a play. Who knows if I'll get in, but even if I don't get so much as a callback, it was worth the fear of singing showtunes in public just to hear a fellow auditionee exclaim "Oh, that's how I know her! She used to be my voice teacher when she was a man!" Ahh, community theater in Dupont Circle.
Instead of a prepared monologue, the director had asked us to spend a few minutes talking about a romantic relationship. This simple-sounding request became one of the most intense things I'd ever seen. Complete strangers were telling stories of losing virginities, falling in love, coming out of the closet, being cheated on. It was emotionally exhibitionist even by theater standards, swinging from high to low and back again as we all took turns climbing onstage, standing under the glare of the hot lights and telling our war stories. By far the best (even better than the transvestite) was the girl who described her booty call from a very famous and very married musical theater/TV actor. No, I won't tell you who he is... suffice it to say that the second we were done auditioning I called my mother to tell her, since she is a huge fan of his and also went to college with him.
So if I get in, great. I'd love to rediscover that part of myself that I stashed away during my preadult life of cheap suits, interning and history books. If not... well, it was a reminder that even though I miss the applause and joy of performing, it's the theater people I miss most of all.
UPDATE: Just got a call from the director-- I got called back!