We’re excited to shine the first cast spotlight of 2014 on the lovely Lea Grover!
Baring Your Soul
by Lea Grover
I have stage fright. People have a hard time believing that, as I’ve been on stage pretty much my whole life.
My first college major was opera performance, I’ve acted in a dozen plays, and I still have stage fright.
I was a Rocky Horror Picture Show cast member for a decade, which meant prancing around in front of hundreds of people in my underwear a few times a year. And even after all that, I still have stage fright.
I performed slam poetry and songs at open mics for years. I recorded a weird CD of lullabies. I love karaoke. And I still have stage fright.
I speak about sexual assault for the RAINN Speaker’s Bureau, and I still have stage fright.
So why would I audition for yet another opportunity to stand up in front of a crowd of people and potentially humiliate myself?
To be honest? I have absolutely no idea. I don’t know what compels me to stand in front of people and act, or sing, or crack jokes, or bare my soul. I don’t know why I continually put myself in the position of opening my mouth and trusting that whatever comes out will be interesting, engaging, or even moving for people in earshot.
I can tell you that every time, every single time I perform, be it at an open mic, a karaoke bar, or a video on my blog, I get stage fright. My hands shake, my heart flutters, my stomach lurches, and my mouth dries up. Every single time.
But I have to. Just as surely as I can’t stop writing, I can’t stop performing either. I can’t stop scratching that itch. As surely as there’s something inside of me that NEEDS to write, there’s something inside of me that NEEDS to perform.
It scares the ever loving crap out of me. And I have a thing for doing stuff that scares me. So of course I had to audition for Listen To Your Mother.
The same way I jumped off of bridges into rivers when I was in high school, and held my mother’s pet tarantula. I had to. (And I confess- I bought my mother the awful giant spider in the first place. For Mother’s Day. She loved it.)
So yes, I had to audition for Listen To Your Mother. And because my stage fright is intensely familiar to me, I put in on lockdown and I put my all into my audition. And remarkably, I made it. I’m a Listen To Your Mother cast member. And that means now I get to stand on a stage, the same stage that hosts the Chicago Comedy Festival, and Ibsen tragedies, and Shakespeare comedies. I’m going to stand up on that stage and read words I put together all by myself, and people are going to listen.
And that’s a vulnerable place to be. You’re more vulnerable than when doing someone else’s play, when you can tell yourself they didn’t like the content, not your performance. You’re more exposed reading your own words than standing in your underwear at Rocky Horror, because instead of your body, people see your soul.
Standing in front of a crowd of strangers, you worry what they’ll think. That they’ll hate the way you sound, if you’re singing. That they’ll hate the way you move, if you’re dancing. That they’ll hate the way you look, if you’re acting. But none of it is personal, really.
Your own words, though. That’s personal. If people don’t like it, it’s you they’re judging.
I know when I stand under the lights on May 4th, my hands are going to shake. My heart is going to race and my mouth will be so dry I’ll chug half a gallon of lemon water behind the curtain. But I’ll put it on lockdown and pour my heart and soul out onto the stage. Because that’s what I do.
And I’ll walk off the stage with the same feeling of victory, of success and redemption and accomplishment that only comes with bravery.
Bravery isn’t when you’re not afraid. It’s when you’re afraid of something and you do it anyway.
So who cares what anyone else thinks?
I hope you all like my piece. I hope you all like me. But I know for a moment, when I step off the stage and hear the polite or enthusiastic applause echoing behind me, I’ll look into my own bared soul and see something.
It’s a rare gift, this chance to see and judge yourself for who you are.
I hope I’ll like what I see.
I’m confident I will.
I’m optimistic you will, too.
Read more by Lea Grover on Becoming Supermommy.
Tickets for the 2014 Chicago LTYM show can be found Here!by