Not all vulnerability is the same
Your Edinburgh Fringe show opens an NYC run later this week, but it’s morning, the windows are still dark, your bed is warm and you have no intention of getting out of it. Putting your feet on the floor will put you back in touch with the stress of the show, and you have so few moments where you can feel relaxed, where you don’t feel quite so vulnerable.
And you can’t stand feeling vulnerable. That’s what your show is about.
But you don’t feel vulnerable now, in these last moments of the early morning before the light comes up, and your stress creeps out of the shadows. What you do feel is the rice and beans you had for dinner. They are ready to re-enter the world any second and you have to determine whether they’re going to do that like a loving whisper or an angry tuba.
Because, even though you just celebrated your nineteenth wedding anniversary, you’re still not comfortable with the idea of farting in bed with your wife there. Like I said, you can’t stand feeling vulnerable. At least not in the real world.
Which gets you thinking about your acting coach. She’s constantly pushing you to reach greater levels of vulnerability on stage. Weird thing is, you don’t have a problem with it there. It’s still scary, but more like roller coaster scary. You look out into all that open space, and your stomach drops just as you start to fall. In a theater, when you let yourself go like that, the audience catches you and that connection is thrilling.
And when you fake that vulnerability, you don’t get that. What you get is a ding from your acting coach’s triangle and her saying, “I’m not believing you.”
When you hear that ding this time, your eyes open and it’s light out. You notice two things. You no longer feel the need to fart. And your wife is no longer in bed with you. Did the need just pass? Did something horrible happen in your sleep and now she’s out on the couch? Something like that happened the other day while you were visiting your parents in Florida. You farted so loudly in your sleep it woke both of you up and your wife lustily proclaimed, “Whoa!”
It was a vulnerable moment and you’re still feeling that vulnerability weeks later.
Not that she cares. She comes from a family of world-class crack flappers. It’s an art form in her family. They practically use spotlights for that stuff.
Like that time in Idaho at the Pioneer, waiting two hours for a table. Her brother has been sick out the backside for several days, with devastating effect on your condo. In an attempt to get a table faster by clearing out the restaurant, he does a long controlled crop dusting of the entire bar area. You watch the heads turn as he walks past and one kid whose face is ass-height starts crying, “Mommy it stinks in here.”
You appreciate the art, admire the execution, respect the mastery, but it will never be your medium. You realize you’re the kind of person who’d rather be naked on stage than fart in bed.
You look at the time. It’s 10am. Your wife has been up for hours now, and you just lost the four you were going to use to push ticket sales and organize the rack cards, programs, and posters you need for your opening. You just slept your way into greater vulnerability. Your day just got more stressful.
“Ding,” goes the triangle. “Too much drama. I’m not believing you,” says your acting coach.