Oddly enough, this post is not the G-rated stuff of my normal daily routine. Please consider yourself warned. Although it’s almost entirely about acting, not sex.
I went back onstage this week after a near-14-year hiatus. And what did I use to get my acting chops back in gear? Did I, perchance, go out for a nice bit part in a one-act? Hang out in the chorus? No, no. I went on stage in front of my (small) local community and performed The Vagina Workshop:
“I had to give up the fantasy… the enormous, life consuming fantasy that someone or something was coming to do this for me… to live my life, to choose direction, to give me orgasms.”
Now for me, walking onstage to talk about masturbation, even with a script in hand, was a stretch. For all that my brain is inhabited by a radical leftie, my body projects a rather conservative outward appearance (temporarily pink hair aside.) My use of swear words is generally limited to situations in which I am extraordinarily angry, or when I drop something on my foot. As I mentioned in my first post on this subject, I would prefer for people to not notice my gender, and ideally interact with me intellectually, not via the body. It was great “work,” this role. After the first read-through, I volunteered to read one of the monologues that I was not entirely comfortable with, rather than the three I had originally said I was able to do. Because after I read it, and heard it, I believed it. I believed the story of the woman who went to The Vagina Workshop to learn how to find pleasure in her own body.
As an actor, it is my job to believe the story I am telling. If I don’t believe it, neither will the audience. In that moment, I must suspend my own discomfort, silence the voice at the back of my mind which is saying, “But you just made the whole audience picture YOU naked!” Say the words on the page even if I would NEVER EVER utter them in “real” life. That’s my job. If I’m/they’re not uncomfortable, at least a little bit, I haven’t shown up. And if my character found liberation through masturbation, I’d better darn well convince the audience that it is at least possible.
I made them laugh, I teared them up. I convinced them. I convinced myself. I did my job. And now I can breathe again.