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Theatre is my religion. I used to be Methodist, but I drifted…

I love the ceremony of theatre. First, you audition.  And, if you’re lucky, you get cast. You receive your script and start reading with abandon, start devouring the words. (I use two highlighters, one to highlight my cue lines, and one to highlight my own.)

Next, the first read-through. It’s like the first day of school. Most likely, you know at least a couple people you’re working with, or, if not, you’ve seen them onstage. Jokes and introductions are exchanged, and then you settle into your chairs.

You start to breathe life into the words for the first time. And, for the first time, they are really yours. You own them. They belong to you. You approach the lines, delicately, tentatively at first–then gradually, gaining momentum and then BAM! You are in a swirling vortex of characters and relationships that you will be bringing to life over the next 6-8 weeks.

Coming down from the high of the first read-through, it’s time to get to work.

But, if you’re lucky, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s actually more like a meaningful kind of playing. If you have the right alchemy.  Which we have in spades for OutCast Production’s upcoming show, August: Osage County, which opens this Friday at the Island County Fairgrounds.

The cast is exceptional: Jimmy Scullin, Nancy Pfeiffer, Lars Larson, Savannah Randall, Brian Plebanek, Gail Liston, Mona Newbauer, Larry Woolworth, Anastasia Brencick, Paul Matthews, and Sandy and Tim O’Brien. Ned Farley is our fearless director.

This has been the first show that I’ve done in over a year, and it’s been such an incredible experience. The play itself won both the Pulitzer and Tony awards for best play in 2008. It is a darkly comedic exploration of how families come together and fall apart (sometimes at the same time.)

What I love most about this production are the people involved. Anastasia brings fresh flowers to rehearsals to brighten up the space. Savannah feeds us with baked goods. Nancy surprised us one night by cooking a green bean casserole. Lars works all day and then puts in a few hours building the set before coming to rehearsal. Everyone cares about this production and puts in a little extra TLC.

Today we started tech week. One of my favorite parts of theatre is the ritual transformation I perform before a show. I set out my color palette I’ve built specifically for my character (this time, a real estate agent from Miami–lots of pinks and golds) and I start to create her from scratch. I use the make up brushes, sponges, bobby pins, hairpieces, etc until I have found her, found my character. I’m still in there, somewhere, but I’m able to see her more clearly–like my character, Karen Weston, says in the play: “Suddenly, you turn around, and there it is.”

We open on Friday, and you can purchase tickets here. This show will sell out by the final weekend. So don’t wait until the last minute!