Friday, November 7, 2014

The horror, the horror



A few of you know, and the fewer the better, I'm going to give an ever so brief public reading next week. There will be seven of us who take the stage, and I'm not the main event, not by a long shot. If we were to compare this to a dinner party, I'd not be the Beef Wellington or even the mashed potatoes. Think celery sticks, olives on toothpicks, something like that.

So, intellectually I should realize, there's no pressure on me. And intellectually, I do. But try telling that to my the medulla & cerebellum, my lizard brain, my sympathetic nervous system which has always behaved way too sympathetically for my taste. Fight or flight -- that's what will be on my emotional menu come Wednesday.

I don't suffer stage fright, I have a raging case of stage horror. You know, slasher stuff -- audience in leather masks, chain saws, blood everywhere. Not sure why; I studied (let's make that "studied") theater for two years in college. And then one day it hit. Hit so bad, I'd walk on stage with a stone in my shoe so the pain of the stone would take my mind off the pain of performing.

It's senseless, ridiculous, I know that. My cerebral cortex knows that. But if you look at a map of the brain, the cerebral cortex, in relative terms, if laid end-to-end, is the size of a lesser Hawaiian Island, while the cerebellum, in direct contact with every moving part of the human body, could swallow the continents of South America and Africa and still hunger for a heaping helping of Antarctica.

But I'm going to do this. Partly because the sponsors were so nice to invite me, and swat aside my initial No's. And also, I'm doing this for others. Not for you, who think my fear is ever so silly and unreasonable and totally out of proportion. But for the few like me -- because, those who are like me and attend this reading, will never be afraid to read, act, or give a speech again. Those like me will always be able to recall my performance, hike up their big-boy and big-girl pants, and proclaim "I won't be the best, but, by god, I can do better than that."

(By the way, this flyer will be reconfigured to include the writer Kelly Russell. A friend of mine said today, "I can't wait to come because Kelly is reading. Ever since I heard Kelly read an essay, I can barely approach her -- she was just that good." Oh, fine, I thought, have a damn olive.)

35 comments:

  1. I have a feeling that once you begin, once you hear your first laugh, you'll start hamming it up and they won't be able to get you off the stage.

    Your story of the stone in your shoe reminds me of Del Close, one of the greats from The Second City in Chicago. He once told us that he put cole slaw in his pants, just to keep the work new and fresh. From most people that would have been a lie, but he meant it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Break a leg! [Do they still say that in theater? It's been so long, but then that applies to most things I've said and done]

    ReplyDelete
  3. If I'm back, I'll be there. Cheering you on, or not cheering you on, whichever you prefer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We're getting a bus load of folks from Jerome Arizona to make the trip....Maybe two!!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm surprised you feel this way, because you seemed very confident at the horse stables event I saw you at, and your speech was excellent. If I could just speak ahead of you at your upcoming event, it might make you feel better. I'm hopeless at public speaking. I start to say something to an audience and then get scared that they're all looking at me, and descend into an incoherent babble, then run away. The people that come up to me afterwards and say "You forgot to say that..." and "You forgot to thank so and so" just don't get what stage fright is. So here's to you, and I hope you have a Hals und Beinbruch at your event!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the poster! I would tell you to, erm, break a leg but I wouldn't mean it so I'll just wish you good luck and hope someone records it for YouTube.

    ReplyDelete
  7. If Linc filled the second bus with a string of burros and trotted them on stage during my piece -- I think I could work with that.

    ReplyDelete
  8. And, it's not like I've been idle; I've been taking lessons from this guy --he's half Norwegian, so he understands a thing or two. My teacher

    ReplyDelete
  9. Your clip is sooo funny! Here's another one. Good old Prince Charles.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-29954951

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't know how that It Crowd guy kept a straight face.

    Nice to see Prince Charles has a sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good for you! I will think of you the next time I am afraid to say "yes."

    ReplyDelete
  12. You are such a fine writer that genres must be expanded to encompass the goodness. In this case, self-deprecation has reached a nadir or zenith or both at once.

    As for me, I have not sent anything to our sponsor. I have googled "short story outline" in the ridiculous hope that I could just follow some steps et voila -- the old thing I pulled out could be made new for 11/12. I'm a snotty mess still in bed long after noon, and I am panicking. Today I must write, revise, polish and hit the send button.

    On the bright side, today I must write, revise, polish and hit the send button. At least I'll be writing. The loathe-love relationship continues. Thanks for letting me know that it will be worth it, even if I am positive it will be shyte.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I would be there with bells on if I lived within a hundred miles. I would love to be there ~ to soak in the atmosphere, to hear the stories, to meet you.... I like celery sticks.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Celery sticks can be the life of the party, if properly dressed up. And olives? Pass the bowl around and see how many people will stick them on their fingers. Everyone loves a good olive. I suffer stage fright among more than 3 people, so you have my sympathy. Just remember to breathe - that's what I tell myself. Not that it helps much.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can get up in front of 10,000 people and perform. But, like Marjie, an audience of 3 can freak me out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "The few like me" include Barbra Streisand, Pablo Casals, Artur Rubinstein, each of whom reportedly suffered from stage fright. You're in good company.

    Maybe this will help. Or at least get you on the trail to an answer. I've been on that trail.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The problem you describe is the bane of voice actors. Most of the copy we are expected to read out loud wasn't written that way and no one ever practiced it to see how it would sound.

    But this material is yours. You get to to rewrite it for the way you speak.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just great, Karin! Congrats!
    Love the flyer.
    I would love to be there to meet you in person and to hear the stories. But I live miles and miles away...

    I liked the links, John Evans.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Maybe a couple of run-throughs with small gatherings before the real deal . . .

    ReplyDelete
  20. Might I pass along these 'words of wisdom. If I were in your shoes I'd be scared shitless. See you on the otherside... next week.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh, you guys are great, even Birdman.
    Thank you. And John, thank you for the links -- I'll study them.

    To Petrea's point, I think I have chosen the wrong pieces to read. My tongue feels fat, no -- obese -- when I try to read them aloud. So I'm going to dig through the archives for something I've written w/lots of dialogue.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Oof, I feel you. I am a knee-quivering-panic-attack-kill-me-now kind of public speaker as well. But I try to always abide by the words my speech advisor in college gave me. "Speak slowly, do not cry."

    Also, I live for celery sticks. x

    ReplyDelete
  23. Just imagine the audience naked - naked slashers, naked chain saw murderers, naked whatever, you know?

    ReplyDelete
  24. Bandit, naked? The way so many people look today? Poor Karin would run in horror to hide from the spectacle!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Majie's right. And after scanning all the advice, I think I'll go with Kaori's -- speak slowly and try not to cry.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi! I am Kelly's friend Catheryn - I F'd up the flyer (it was late - there was wine involved) I fixed it. I can't believe I did that! But it's a thing we've got going, I also forgot to thank her in the acknowledgements in my book!! And I love me some Kelly Russell!

    ReplyDelete
  27. And P.S. - you will be great!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. You are not an olive, you are a peach!
    I'm sure you will do just fine. You are smart, funny and will probably slay the rest of them. If you lived a bit closer, I would attend and swoon at your performance.
    Oh wow! It's tonight and probably already over. Okay, forget all I said. How did it go?

    ReplyDelete
  29. It went really well. They laughed at all the right places and even at a couple of things I didn't know were funny. I read a piece I've been chipping away at to send to This American Life. So, I guess I will.

    ReplyDelete
  30. So glad it went well, I wish I'd been there.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I hope these public readings, or at least yours, were recorded for posterity, or at least YouTubes sake! I'd really like to listen to them. :D

    Btw, are public readings related to public speaking?

    ReplyDelete