Friends! Romans! LITERATI! Listen up!
A few years back a rather shy but talented Suzanne Morse attended a writer’s workshop at the towers that are A Word with You Press in which Pulitzer Prize winner Jonathan Freedman encouraged her to write, and upon hearing her story dubbed her “Warrior Woman.”
The moniker stuck, and Warrior Woman has gone on to pursue a writing, directing, and acting career urged forward by that encounter and by subsequent participation in our writing workshops and on-line contests, such as this.
Now Suzanne would like to share a moment with us as part of The First Annual Peggy DobbsWrite-of-Passage Contest. If you are counting down with me, this makes story 12 of the 24 I have started posting since Thanksgiving. Expect three or four entries to show up before we announce our six finalists who will write to the prompt “…but by then, it was too late.”
Please post comments and invite your friends to do the same. We should be able to denounce our finalists by the anniversary of the day that will live in infamy. Help build the groundswell that will overwhelm the levee this weekend, and use your social media to bring people to the site. This has been a most successful contest, and if you would like to be part of the grass roots effort to see A Word with You Press promote books that require no crayons for your viewing pleasure, and correct dangling participles and incomplete.
If you think you are a finalist, practice your humble acceptance speech, but leave some comments for the less humble on our site. 400 hits on our site today. Help make it a thousand this weekend and find out who will be in line for five Franklins, our prize money.
MY STAGE DEBUT
Suzanne E Morse
I peeked through the heavy, red curtains. My eyes gazed upon the black stage, sitting empty, waiting for me to fill it with words. And beyond, I saw them – mostly silhouettes- sitting in the seats, looking upon the stage with anticipation, waiting for whatever words of mine that would fill them. The bright, white lights glared down upon the stage, daring me to step out and confront them. It was my turn. My time to step up onto that stage and perform before strangers.
I remember my first encounter with the stage. I swear, it’s not too late to try to fulfill your dreams. And I’d always secretly longed to be an actress. Now, the stage awaited me, beckoning me to pour myself into the moment, losing myself in the character I’d practiced so hard to become. Tonight, it would be decided. How futile it was to grab hold of a dream, or how splendid a feeling when a dream is fulfilled? Tonight, I would find out how much of an actor I could be.
I hesitated for a moment, and took a deep breath as I stepped upon that stage. Eerie silence greeted me. The bright light blasted into my face. The room beyond the stage was black. It was as if I was performing for the walls. My fellow actress was a veteran who had mounted this stage for many years, spilling the memorized words and gliding about the stage with grace and ease. I trembled for a moment. God, what if I forgot all the lines? What if I just stood there with nothing to say? I looked into her eyes, and spoke the first lines. They fell out of my mouth and out into the darkened room. Her eyes smiled back, welcoming me, encouraging me to keep going.
I’d spent nights uttering the lines over and over again, drilling them into my head, until they flowed out of me in my dreams. They became rote. I’d mumble them as I strolled through the mall; proclaim them at dinner; and dream them in my sleep. Now, as I stood out in the lights, the words flowed out of me, now a part of my conscience, tumbling over themselves, creating a tapestry of fiction. I’d memorized the lines. I nailed it.
But there were my arms just awkwardly hanging at my sides, longing for movement. My feet planted on that black stage, begging to take a step or two. As our dialogue continued, my partner on the stage stepped toward the other side of the stage, and my feet gladly followed. I let my arms move with every phrase. But it was awkward and clumsy. But my mind stayed focus, on the words, on my partner. As she moved, so did I.
This was my very first play – a 15-minute play. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life. The sweat beaded on my forehead as I continued the dialogue that flowed from my head, feeling like that awkward teenaged kid whose limbs are too long for the body. I was sweating under the shirt, and it dripped down my legs under the pants. When it was finished, the blaring lights dimmed, and faded into darkness. For a short moment, I stood in darkness and silence, anticipating the response. The lights then came back up, and the silhouettes out in the darkness began to applaud. It was then I was struck by an epiphany. That applause was for me. And it was as if I’d injected myself with caffeine. The rush. The rush of it all. The heart raced and my breath shortened. The realization of my dream. It was worth it all. To bow in front of an audience of strangers, standing on a black stage, with a bright, white light in the face. We bowed a few times before exiting the stage.
That was my debut. Since then, I’ve stepped onto stages, immersing myself into various characters, playing out fantasies in front of an audience. But that memory of that first encounter when fear and doubt met excitement and empowerment and mingled them on that stage for the amusement of others, has stayed with me, reminding me of where I began. And each time, it’s been more exhilarating, more fulfilling, than I ever imagined when I first fantasized about it. It’s been worth every rote, every practice, every hot, sweaty night under those bright lights. I swear it’s never too late to reach out and grab your dreams.