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    When I was finally first physically separated in 2008, I was meeting the worst, lowest, most immoral parts of the man I had spent so many years with, cared about, and created a person with. I had begged for the separation for years, but it wasn't going to happen without major problems. It was such an emotionally violent blast of things. Add to that not having enough money to survive, fearing the loss of health care, trying to give up cigarettes with Chantix (which turned out to be close to full disaster for me – that medicine is NOT for everyone), and the worst was what was happening for and to my then-teenager who was burdened with what wasn’t his war. I had wrongly attributed more basic human decency to his other parent. It was the beginning of a horrendous time.

    During all of this, I still received casting notices and sometimes looked at them. I was torn because on one hand, I needed to find more paid work. On the other hand, when you belong in the acting world, holding all kinds of other jobs can feel deadening. And I needed to be alive. I responded to a casting notice. It was for the title role in an off-off Broadway play.

    I was called in for an audition.  On my way, I needed to cry. I stuck my face in what serves as a phone booth these days, and I bawled. Then I used the reflection of the metal parts of the phone as a mirror and fixed my make-up a bit. And I continued on to the theatre space. Sides (pages from the script) were available, so I had a good half hour to get familiar with the part I’d be asked to do at the audition. I found the character so interesting, intelligent, psychic, and maybe psychotic or maybe just perceived that way because she saw what others couldn't. And what stood out to me was she didn’t seem to think she was crazy at all. I thought, I could do this. I could really do this.

    When it was almost my turn, I was right outside the room where the auditions were going on. I heard the woman before me yelling the lines. I believed that wasn’t a good choice and secretly felt grateful that she made it easier for me.

    The writer and director and a third man were there. A woman was there to read lines with those auditioning. As it turned out, the three men were friends and formed Just ASK Productions. Each wrote a one-act play. Each would direct one of the other plays. The title of the evening was to be: Anyone for a Threesome? – A night of very different short plays.

    I felt the character at the audition. I was able to just be her while being me. It didn’t feel difficult once I decided that she didn’t consider herself crazy. And she was so much more than symptoms. I heard the men laugh as I portrayed the character. I later thought that is good since they’ve been hearing reading after reading, so if I made them laugh, it must’ve sounded fresh and different from what they’d been hearing. When it was over, they made me feel very comfortable. I was being very forthright about my crazy work schedule, and the director chimed right in saying he was going to be directing it and the cast was small so we’d work with everyone’s schedule. They made me feel wanted. It felt deeply medicinal at that time. The writer rushed to say as I was leaving that they were making decisions that night. I knew then that I got it unless someone was going to be seen after me who was even more convincing as this character.

    The “high” I get from that kind of experience helped me at least not cry on my travels back home to the Bronx. This was not a paid gig, but it felt like a gift from God, the universe, angels, my loved ones who have passed. While I was still being put down for not making more money and for pursuing “dreams” (said as if they were hallucinations), this opportunity felt like someone/something/some force was saving me.

    That night I got the email. I would be Nicky in “I Am Tricky Nicky.”
    The role gave me a place to be "crazy" in a way. And who couldn't use a metaphorical rubber room every now and then?

    If you have the time and desire, you can see the video of the play here. It’s a little under a half hour. I appreciate the script now more than then. I don’t have to learn lines now. I am able to just watch and enjoy.


    The Just ASK trio had amazing energy besides being smart and creative. They had very supportive families and networks. We never lacked audience and our run was extended. We were even reviewed twice. My performance was highlighted positively in the reviews. This was a large dose of medicine that was going to help me face each day during a very dark period. If I had been at a more normal place, this could have been more skyrocketing. I was at an extremely low place, so this was helping to bring me up to functioning. At the cast party (I unfortunately got too drunk, fell asleep, and missed much of it), the trio were full of lovely surprises including a gift card for each of us. When I realized I could use the card in the supermarket, I got excited. I was in real need at the time, and this was another unexpected gift of survival. One of the guys looked at me in disbelief that I needed it for the supermarket. We were born into very different circumstances. I realized they just might not understand how enormous this whole experience was to me, but it doesn’t lessen how much appreciation I had and have for them.

  2. 5 comments:

    1. Oh, I love Nicky! Your performance was so strong and very natural. "Make shit up" was also so Mindy. I enjoyed what I saw of the play and I'm sorry I didn't get to see the whole piece. Looking forward to future productions with your talented self.

    2. Liz, my darling, thank you. That was that whole play. The rest of the evening involved two other different plays, not with me. I love the line you quoted. It was one I found easy to say.

    3. It DID seem a complete story but I thought it was a section. You're a natural and that was a great part.

    4. Canada Anne said...

      Feeling WANTED is medicinal. Your past pains and anguish are now translating to great material and you are on the road to salvation. You are an inspiration Mindy. Writing what you went through and pulling through it and surviving.

    5. Thanks so much, CA. So nice to read and re-read your comment.

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