Is is any wonder that I didn’t make it? That the only pink slip I ever held in my hand was the call slip for the first audition? It’s wrinkled and creased to bits now, crumpled up in a corner of my handbag that I hope time will forget. The movie in my mind never got past pre-production.
It’s all over, once again.
How many disappointments will I face during these cruel -ber months? First, and still painful if I look back on it (I realize that pain never really goes away, it just dulls, so that if you make an effort you can ignore it.), was BrandTastic. That loss was painful. I remember sobbing and singing and sobbing again the night the verdict had been passed. I had hoped that we would have at least made it to the Inter-University round, but it was not so. No matter how good we thought our ideas were, they couldn’t hold water next to the ideas of the other teams. At least then, however, we had some consolation–we were the only non-IMC team to make it to the UA&P qualifiers, a step closer to the finish line than if we’d just been axed in the first round.
Not so with Saigon. As hard as I prayed to make it just to callbacks, God, please, just to callbacks…I didn’t. I don’t know how I screwed up or why I did. I don’t know if I made the wrong decision to sing Kim’s part of Movie in My Mind instead of Gigi’s. I don’t know anything at all, most especially where to go from here. Sure, there’s a whole lot of work left to be done–I’m in my senior year of college, after all–but I find that after this disappointment, the whole world looks like ashes and I’m not sure if anything I’m doing really means anything. I guess in the lights of West End, everything else starts looking pale and gray and one-dimensional.
My biggest mistake was hanging all my hopes on this one audition. Could I help it, though? It was the only pattern I knew: get Kim or Gigi, earn some degree of recognition, and perhaps, one fine day, as Lea was before me, get tapped to sing in the role of my lifetime. Éponine seems more out of my grasp than ever. My dreams are once again stupid, and still only my dreams.
The depression is mounting.
The worst part is I’m living a scenario I’d envisioned in the days leading up to this do-or-die audition. I would not get callbacks, and have to sit through my best friend preparing for her audition the next day. As much as I would want to cheer her on, the selfish side of me can’t really offer up much more than advice from a girl who isn’t really qualified to give it. I hate the fact that should she get in–with her voice, it’s very likely–I won’t be able to be completely happy because I didn’t.
I hate the fact that every single selfish thought I’ve had this past week, I’ve projected onto her. My best friend has never been the enemy. Neither were the scores of people who I thought didn’t believe in me–the college blockmates who videotaped my best friend’s performances but not mine, the high school batchmates who walked out en masse when I started singing, the teachers who favored sopranos to my ambitious alto. None of them are at fault. The fault is mine. My heart is not ready for the lights of Broadway or West End.
I have become my own downfall.
It’s that reality that is the hardest to face. It is not that I do not have the talent or the capacity. It is that my heart is too black to reveal in the spotlights. So God holds me back, concerned more with my character than my dreams. And so I weep on the sidewalk of some Makati side-street, as onlookers gape at my lack of poise, that I should be sobbing so audibly next to a camera crew of a popular TV station. I couldn’t stop myself. Even though I’d braced myself for impact, I was still hit hard. Up until the very last second, I believed I had a chance. Only when the kind lady ushering me out told me “Not to cry” did the reality at last sink in.
I would not be coming back.
A West End crew has judged me and found me wanting.
This was the extent of my plans, the only avenue I could think of to get to where I wanted to go. London still sits, hazy and unattainable, across a continental divide. And while plane tickets and passports are easy enough, the purpose for being there still eludes me. I want to be a West End actress. But how many silly girls have said the same things, typed them up on their blogs, mooned over interview videos of Karimloo, Fraser, Boggess? I’m sure I’m not the only one, and I’m sure that not all of us will get the dream we dream.
It is now more than ever that I understand why life is an audition. We prepare for a part, a dream that we want, but not all of us get that dream, no matter how hard we want it. Only I’m not so sure if this situation is merely another round, or am I to interpret the fact that I did not receive a callback as a sign that this dream is indeed done and oh God if my best friend gets it, if she gets it, that’s it. That’s the end of me. I’ll be alone, left behind. Oh God, what happens now?
I know that part of the problem is that constant jealousy, that ever-present need to be at par with my perception of “the best” in order to be worth something. But while I have tried to content myself with the simple life, when I really think, and I mean really think, about what I would want to do, the stage looms bright and glittering in front of me each time. Even my writing takes a backseat to it, as evidenced by the fact that I quit NaNoWriMo just to prepare for Miss Saigon auditions.
Now, I have nothing.
In those inspirational videos, those interviews of my favorite theater actors, the one thing they never really mention is the pain they had to experience to get to where they got. It all looks so easy. Perhaps they never mention the journey because it’s too painful to dwell on it? It has certainly been painful for me. My dreams are the dust of life. The music of Miss Saigon–particularly the opening bars of Movie In My Mind–plays and plays, mournfully, in my head. As much as I try to block it out, it will not die, and I am left sobbing in its wake.
If only if only if only if only…
Next Monday brings another prospect, an open call by Atlantis Productions for its next theatrical season. I would have jumped at the chance, once, only now it feels like a consolation. And then, of course, is the terror–what if I don’t make it again? Unwanted internationally, unwanted locally, where is my journey to that elusive brown cap and ratty skirt to begin? Is it even a journey I should want to take?
I cry out to God, but He remains silent.
All my tears are spent. What’s left now is a numbness. I don’t want to face tomorrow. I don’t want tomorrow to exist. How am I supposed to walk into class and sit next to a friend whose dreams still have a potentiality of coming true when mine are already dashed? How can I support her when I myself can barely stand. And oh God, what if she gets in? What then? How am I to smile and clap and be happy for her, as the world expects, when I know that my cruel and black heart will take it as a confirmation that I am, indeed, nothing?
Don’t tell me I have another shot. I will only be nineteen once. Kims have an expiry date. I only have a few years. Sure, twenty-five or twenty-six is still seven years away, but seven years is not such a short time. Soon, I will miss my prime, miss any chance of a debut. Soon, I will be too old for the parts I dream of playing.
It all feels so impossible now. I am, once again, in the confines of my hundred square-meter bedroom, singing songs that bounce off the walls and which no one will hear. I feel as if I have lost all heart. I should be getting back to work but all I want to do is cry and cry until the whole world is a blur of water and black and I won’t have to wake up, I won’t I won’t I won’t this is all just a bad dream it never happened.
The horror claws at me, the possibility that I will never get there. And what then? What happens? It is so easy to say that life will go on, because life has a tendency to, but will I go on with it? Or will I slowly disintegrate, clawed apart by broken dreams as surely as if I had lain upon a bed of broken glass? Oh God, what is your grand plan? What is the thing that is better that you promised? When you told the pastor to tell me this was only the beginning…what sort of beginning does this make? Or did you mean for this to be an end to foolish, childhood aspirations?
Life was so much easier when I’d forgotten how to dream, when I shrunk my world down to the practical, when my dreams were simply to be a teacher, and a writer. These are not pittances, mind you; I understand they are noble vocations. But to me, they felt like settling for a journey I could understand, a clearly marked-out set of steps instead of one fraught with uncertainty and disappointment. I told myself I was being a pragmatist. In truth, I was afraid.
When did I stop being afraid? When did I start dreaming again? What event occurred that let these painful creatures, like the horrors that escaped from Pandora’s box, fly free and unbidden through my mind? But unlike Pandora’s box, wherein hope lay quiet and redemptive at the very bottom, in my story hope has become the monster. Hope is what makes the claws dig in deeper. Hope is what made me believe, for at least an hour after the audition, that there had been some mistake and I would get a text message saying I should come back on Wednesday.
But as much as it is a monster, it is one that keeps me alive.
A quote goes something like this, “Once you have tasted flight, you will live forever with your eyes turned skyward.” I have tasted flight, on the stages I have been on; the exhilaration of being part of something larger than myself. I have tasted it in the music that I’ve felt in every part of me, coursing like sparks of electricity in my veins. I have tasted it in the backstage, where I have been overwhelmed with a sense of belonging.
In backstage photos, everyone is smiling.
My eyes have been trained skyward since, but I do not know how to soar to the heights to which I aspire. I cannot be content to simply be a spectator. It is not the need for fame or glory that drives me, but one of rightness. It’s a sense of meant to be.
It is that sense that drives my leaden feet onward, running at full tilt, like Nick Carraway describes at the end of The Great Gatsby before the soaring, leaping prose is cut off violently with “…so we beat on…”
So I beat on.