Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Back-Handed Compliment

I thought when he said we could talk about it at the show that night it would be to ease my pain with a friendly hand on the shoulder and a few soft pats laced with the undertone that I was never really ever considered for the part, so it shouldn't be a surprise he had to email me with negative results.

And not negative in medical terms, meaning the disease isn't present. Not negative that way. Not really.

You can understand my surprise when the producer of the black box at the local community theatre approached me with a hesitantly sorrowful face that night and mouthed "Did you get your email?" before sweeping me into a gentle hug upon my Yes.

He started talking. Said after Saturday she was in first and I was in second, I listened, my mind remembering the four other girls up for the part at callbacks, but he was only talking about me and one other. Just two of five. "After Tuesday it all swapped. Your readings were so solid." My brain started to make sense of his monologue.

It was between me and one other. Just two.

"I was pushing for you but [the director] was pushing for her. And you were so close in everything that we had to go with looks. And I hate that because I've lost parts that way."

But she looked more like Thomas More's daughter than I did.

I don't have enough English blood for English looks.

I was chipper, I was flattered, I was understanding. It was enough to know I'd been considered. Especially so closely. I felt good about my callbacks, but I had no idea I was near the head of the group after that terrible first audition. But he looked at me and told me several times that I'd been good. I'd been really good. And so had she. So they had to go with who looked more familial.

And it was her.

But you can see how, letting it sink in further, I realized how disgruntling a situation this was. I'd been so close. I was so close. And I lost it for looks. I lost it for being blonde and blue eyed. I lost it for being round faced, not narrow faced. I'd lost it for factors beyond my control.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not angry and making voodoo dolls of the other girl. Nor am I curled up with the pint of ice cream my mom bought me for my birthday. I'm taking it with a grain of salt: a back-handed compliment of sorts. Knowing that I did my best, and that my best is better than I give myself credit for. I just wasn't meant for the role. Not this time.

There's a line in Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead that keeps coming to mind: "Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else."

I'm not meant to enter the role of Margaret More. I'm exiting from the stage for a while, metaphorically and literally, the enter into something else. Something that's more suited for me at this point of my life. It would have been amazing to do a beautiful drama like A Man for All Seasons. It would have been delightful to work with a different director and several new-found, good theatre friends. It would have been fun to wear those heavy, authentic 1600's costumes. It would have been, it would have been, it would have been.

But it won't be. Not for me. I don't need to be Meg. I don't need to enter here. I'm needed somewhere else.

I'm just waiting for the cue.

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