Diary Friday: “I glanced over at the two theatre majors and the guy grinned reassuringly at me.”


Me, Joanna, Brett, and Chuck E. Cheese, the place Brett chose to host his 21st birthday party. I’m 16.

Tomorrow is my friend Brett’s birthday. Brett died in February of 2011, suddenly. It was a horrible horrible thing. I have known him and loved him since I was 16 years old. We had drifted apart in his last years, but nothing will ever take away the fact that we were friends for over 20 years, and he was one of the ones responsible for helping give me confidence and belief in my abilities when I was an ambitious and shy 16 year old girl, cast in the university production of Picnic. Everyone else was college-age and older in that production. I was a high school student, and awkward, and very afraid of seeming immature. I was not a worldly-wise 16-year-old. I was still a child, really. You can imagine how this could have gone: either: college kids basically being polite to the child in their midst, but ultimately leaving her out of things – OR, even worse – setting out to corrupt me, a la Emilio Estevez getting Drew Barrymore drunk when she was a child. Neither happened. They embraced me, treated me as an equal, protected my innocence too (how did they do that??) and I made lifelong friends in the process. Brett, Liz, Joe, Brooke, Joanne. Linda, David … all of these people, still here. Theatre is a big cozy comfy world, in the best scenarios: where misfits can come together, work together on a project, have deep meaningful and hilarious experiences, and grow close through the collaboration. Picnic changed my life. Brett changed my life.

He was, hands down, the funniest person I have ever known. He made me laugh so hard one foggy day driving around Rhode Island that I actually pissed my pants in the back seat of his car. He was so creative: he would make these hand-drawn cards, some of which I still have, back in the days when we had to write letters if we wanted to keep in touch. I loved going to the movies with him. If he was into something, he was IN-TO IT. He loved Halloween (it was his favorite holiday) and he would host parties where you would have to show up as actual dead people. He would rig witch’s hats to fly up and down on invisible wires. His mind was flexible and imaginative: if there was comedic potential in a moment, he would leap upon it and exploit it until the crowd would beg for mercy (or … piss your pants in the back seat of his Fiat). He was sometimes chaotic (he refused to pay any parking tickets he got while he lived in New York with a car, claiming he was “beating the system”, until The System put a damn boot on that Fiat one bleak day), and his sense of appreciation for things knew no bounds. He was incredible with children. They flocked around him, and no wonder. He met them on their level, and he was the funnest person EVER. He was obsessed with Charles Dickens, and every year would do a one-man Christmas Carol, which was written up in local papers. We all drove up to Connecticut once to see it, and it was unbelievable.


Brett congratulating me on the day I graduated college


David and Brett at Liz and Joey’s wedding


Flanked by Brett and Liz, college graduation


Me and Brett, a Christmas party I threw at my apartment about 12 years ago, something like that


My brother and Brett


Brett, my father, and my grandmother


A road trip to Manchester to see Liz in “Noises Off”. That is, left to right, Steven, Mitchell, my boyfriend Antonio (with the camera), me (vamping it up), and Brett, in front. Great weekend.


From the same road trip above. We had a lot of time on our hands, clearly.


Brett, Liz, and my sister Jean in the audience at Circle in the Square Downtown to see my thesis performance


And finally this. This I treasure. Brett with my parents.

He came from a great family. Warm, kind people. He had many passions. He loved science. One day, we were talking about the Doppler Effect for some reason, and to explain some of the finer points, he actually acted it out for me on the Manhattan sidewalk. I was crying with laughter (his acting out of the Doppler Effect is one of my favorite memories of him), but it was actually a really good representation of the scientific principles! He could do more with a glance, a pause, a brief look, than other people could do with a whole monologue.

We all still talk about him. His name comes up all the time. The memories are thick and furious and beloved. Many of us remember him as the One Who Made Us Laugh the Hardest. The kind of laughter you feel you will never recover from. He was a good person and cared about his friends. He taught roller blading in Central Park. He loved ghost stories. He could tell you anything, anything, about Edgar Allan Poe. He could analyze a moment in Waiting for Guffman that lasted .2 seconds long, and explain why the moment was Shakespearean in scope. He understood appreciation. He understood enthusiasm. One summer night, at his instigation, we found a big boulder in Central Park where we could peek over the set at the Delacorte and watch (mostly) one of the productions. Granted, we saw the backstage area, and saw the actors only from behind, and their voices were far away, but we could see them and follow the action. It was one of those things that Brett would suggest: “Let’s go to this rock I know in Central Park – we’ll at least be able to hear Christopher Walken from there!” Okay, Brett, let’s do it!

I miss him. There is so much I still would love to say to him. I had always hoped (and, frankly, assumed) that we would get close again. I assumed our drifting apart was a phase. (He had drifted away from many of us in his last 3 years or so.) Unfortunately, I will never get that chance now. But I love him, and I will always love him: for who he was then, and for the many years of friendship that followed. He was the best. Truly the best.

For today’s Diary Friday, here is something I posted shortly after Brett passed. It is the diary entries leading up to my being cast in a university production of Picnic my senior year in high school. Here is where I “first met Brett”. He made a HUGE impression on me. Immediately.


Me as Millie in PICNIC

I got the part of Millie. To say this was a big deal is an understatement. It changed the course of my life. Millie is the linchpin to the entire thing, she’s William Inge’s alter ego, and I was surrounded by theatre majors (all of them excellent actors – it was a terrific theatre department) – and in one fell swoop I upped my game. It was a huge feather in my cap. But it wasn’t just the acting part of things that was so important, it was the people I met. These people, all college kids, and a tight group of friends, embraced me wholeheartedly. The rehearsal process was intense. It was a whole new way of working. The director was a Meisner guy, so that was my real introduction to that process. He was an in-depth process-oriented director, and I learned things from him that I still use today. I was so right for the part of Millie, though, that he didn’t mess with me too much.


Me, Brett, Joanne, and Eric in PICNIC

I was a pretty shy kid, and VERY insecure. I was constantly afraid of being humiliated or “found out”. It kept me on the straight and narrow. But I was suddenly thrust into this whole new world, where I had to be brave all the time. It changed my life. I would never ever be so nervous again.


The cast of PICNIC

Everyone I met in that cast – Liz, Joe, Linda, Brett, Joanne, Joanna, Eric, Jennifer, everyone – was so awesome to me. They were at different life stages, but they embraced me. NOW the age difference between us (3 or 4 years) is nothing – but when you’re 16, a 4-year age difference can be a lifetime. But they greeted me as an equal, they LOVED me. And I loved them back.

Brett was playing the part of Alan (Madge’s emasculated good-boy boyfriend), and this diary entry is the story of the week or so of my audition, my callbacks, and the news that I got the part. I was also starting to date someone for the first time (the “TS” in the entries, so there is a level of schizophrenia going on. Excited about auditioning, excited about TS, wild swings back and forth.)

Thank you, Brett, for being so nice to me right from the bat. For welcoming me with a smile. For being excited for me. He totally got what it meant for me to be walking into the audition room. And thank you for winking at me.

I can see that wink now.

SEPTEMBER 22

Tomorrow I am going to audition for a URI play – open auditions – for Picnic – (I believe there’s a 16 year old girl in it). TS wangled me into it. OH I HOPE HE’S THERE!

I know I know I can’t go alone. I feel ill.

SEPTEMBER 23

Diary, I feel physically ill. [The continuing theme.] I haven’t gone yet. I can’t stand how paralyzed and totally SICK I feel. Last night I was feeling so weird that I called Mrs. McNeil [the drama teacher at the high school] to ask her if I should do it. She wasn’t at home (a babysitter answered) but Mrs. McNeil called back right at 8:30 – when the sitter said they’d get back. So I told her about auditions and she said, “Yes. Do it, Sheila. You have absolutely nothing to lose. I mean – just for the experience. And since you’ll be going there next year as a drama major – why not make yourself known now?”

There is a “homely 16 year old girl” in it. Mrs. McNeil said, “Aha! So you’re walking in there with an advantage. Not every college student can look 16 – but you are!”

I am so sickly nervous. I want TS to be there. I don’t know if I can do this alone. TS probably went yesterday – but he said he’d come on Sunday to give me “immoral support”.

Mrs. McNeil told me to call her the minute I got back. She said, “I can’t wait till Monday to hear about it.”

Oh help me – listen to the ad in the paper:

“The production, directed by Kimber Wheelock, will be done in the Robert E. Will Theatre, November 29 through December 8. It is the theatre department’s entry in this year’s American College Theatre Festival, and therefore may be invited to the regional festival at UNH in February and the national festival at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in April. Auditions will consist of reading from the script and are open to all.”

Good Lord. I want to audition with someone. God – do professionals ever get used to feeling this way?

Later:

I am bouncing off the walls! I am a pinball! Someone calm me down! I don’t know if I can make a living at this – I mean, feeling this way all the time – My adrenaline! I’m — I’m gone! I’m going nuts!

What a morning.

Wowee.

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I just lay in bed honestly worrying myself sick. [In looking back, I would say that what I was experiencing was NOT really worry or anxiety. It was ambition.] I had to go to the bathroom about every minute. And last night, real late – the last M*A*S*H* was on – Oh my God. Maybe I was in for a good cry. It is beyond my comprehension how the MASH people did it. Everyone – the actors, the writers – I went up to my room and CRIED AND CRIED. I didn’t sleep at all. I just lay there feeling sick and worried. I kept thinking, “Nervousness can be good” but all I felt like was throwing up. I’m serious.

I got up on my own accord at like 8:00 (auditions at 11:00). I just was pacing. I wanted to get hold of a script but where? [I hadn’t read the play, obviously, so I was walking in there blind.] I had no idea what the auditions would be like. I saw myself as they would see me – a bumbling high school kid, humiliated and ridiculed.

At about 10:00, I really didn’t want to go. But I had to. Mrs. McNeil would want to hear about it and I just couldn’t say, “I chickened out.” So I called TS. This time I got him out of the shower. GREAT. Again, he answered with this grunt. I said, “Hi – it’s Sheila.” I asked him, “Did you go to the auditions yesterday?” And he said, “Auditions? What the hell are you talking about, Sheila?” I KNEW somewhere in the back of my mind that he was kidding, but I still got all flustered, and stuttering. Finally I said, “You know what I’m talking about.” Turns out that he didn’t go yesterday, so he was getting ready to go today. I felt so relieved. Thank God! I would have gone even if he didn’t. But it made me feel so much better that there would be a familiar face there.

So then off I started. I walked there . I needed to do something with my coursing adrenaline. I felt like screaming, I felt roller-coaster sickness when I thought of auditioning.

It was a gorgeous perfect breezy day. We’ve really had beautiful Garden of Eden days lately. And everything is so green and yellow and blue. It was perfect exhilarating weather – just right for my mood.

And – just as I was walking down the road, I heard this, “Sheila! Sheila!” Mrs. McNeil was just driving by so she pulled over. Rebecca – her too-cute-to-be-true daughter was in the back seat. Mrs. McNeil said, “I was just thinking about you!” So we talked – she wished me luck and off I went. I kept pounding it into my head, “This is a good experience. This is a good experience.” But I was scared out of my MIND.

I finally got to the Fine Arts Center. All these Drama majors were milling around. They all knew each other. They all knew the play. I felt so country bumpkinish and disgustingly juvenile. In fact, I sort of hid in the bathroom. I was so scared and shy, and I had no idea what I was doing. I almost left. I really did. My teeth were chattering, I was all over goosebumps. I sat on this bench for about 15 minutes thinking, “Where is TS?”

The way the lobby is set up – there are benches around these huge square columns so I was sitting on an isolated side where no one could see me. I came so close to getting up and leaving when I heard on the other side, this guy saying, “Are you auditioning?” And I heard TS’ voice, “Yes.” I was practically crying I was so scared and afraid to move that I’d humiliate myself. So TS found me huddled alone, and he sort of told me what to do. There was this other guy on the other side with forms we had to fill out. So TS and I sat together and filled them out. Easy stuff, but I felt so idiotic writing: “Monday thru Friday – 8:00 to 2:00.” in the slot where it said “Conflicts”. Oh well. I can’t help it that I’m still in high school.

He also gave me a script to study. So we had a 15 minute wait, so TS and I just sat together quietly, reading. There was really only one part I could go for. That was the 16 year old girl Millie. I LOVE her. She’s shy with boys, but covers it up by being really aggressive. God, she’s so cute. The whole time I was reading I could hear myself saying her lines. I guess I looked pretty corpse-ish cause TS said, “You look like you’re on Death Row!” I read all the Millie scenes about 3 times – then TS and I just sat there whispering about the play.

The way they ran the auditions is that the director (Kimber Wheelock – dear Lord!) and two Drama majors would help with the auditions by reading opposite the auditioners. What I liked was that they auditioned us one by one so that I wouldn’t have to be intimidated by anyone else, and I could interpret it in my own way. But it was nerve-wracking anyway.

So this really nice lady who acted really informal and nice came out and took the forms off the pile one by one and brought the person in.

I went after TS. When he came out, she called, “Sheila O’Malley” and I stood up. TS said, “Do you want me to wait for you?” and me – the stupid idiotic girl – said, “Oh yes – would you?” Boy do I deserve a kick in the head. [Even back then, I was paranoid about being “too much” for whatever guy I was with. ]

The lady [hmmm … have no idea who this “lady” was. She was probably a theatre student which meant she was, oh, 20 years old … but to me, she was EONS older than I was!!] knew I was in high school so as we walked in the room she asked me if I knew Kimber, told me just to relax. God, everyone was so nice to me.

I was mostly just worried that everyone would be like: “Oh. You’re in — high school” in a derogatory way, and just dismiss me, not give me a chance.

The audition room was one of the acting class rooms. I’ve been in them before. They’re huge – but no architecture at all. It almost looks like a gym – or just a box with tape on the floor. [I didn’t know the lingo yet. Rooms like that are actually called “black boxes”.] Really bleak. And there was Kimber behind a desk, smoking on his pipe. And there was a guy and a girl sitting there. [This “guy and a girl” turned out to be Brett and Liz.] I had seen the girl in a play before.

The minute I got into the room, I wasn’t nervous anymore. In the middle of the room were 2 chairs facing each other. Kimber told me to sit in one. I did. I was ON DISPLAY!

He read over my form and said, “So. You’re still in high school?” I didn’t feel at all stupid saying, “Yes.”

I glanced over at the two theatre majors and the guy grinned reassuringly at me. They were both probably 20 or so. Kimber told the girl to go up and read with me.

It was a great scene. I’m dressed up for the picnic and nervous about my first date and I’m talking to my older sister Madge. The minute I started reading, I knew I was in control. I know how to act. In fact, I think I did pretty damn well considering how sick I felt before. Then we had to read another scene that the guy was in too. He played the paper boy – and he was calling me names like “Goon face” and making fun of me – and I had to scream: “YOU ORNERY BASTARD.” Well, I did scream. I hope I didn’t make a fool of myself. I felt my whole face get hot when I screamed. I don’t know. What a wonderful part Millie is anyway.

After that Kimber just said, “Thank you, Sheila.” And the lady escorted me out. As I walked out, I glanced over at the guy and the girl. The girl was whispering with Kimber, and the guy was smiling at me, this huge nice smile. Then he winked at me. As I came out into the lobby, the lady told me that the cast list would be posted on Tuesday. TUESDAY! TWO DAYS! I’m dying already.

Oh God. I felt good about myself. Everyone was just nice. Nevertheless I mean it when I say I have no fingernails left.

Then TS and I left together. I still felt all rattled and frenzied. To beat off some of it, we just wandered around the sunny campus talking about our auditions, how we thought we did and all that stuff. We went over to the Union to see if the book store was open. It wasn’t. So then we decided to walk back to my house and he could call his mom from there. Boy, have I walked a lot today.

We just talked. He kept saying, “Are you still quaking?”

I still have to tell about our Friday night date, and also about what happened at mass tonight, but it’s late and I have school tomorrow. I still can’t eat a thing.

SEPTEMBER 24

All right. Sit down.

I either got a part, or I made callbacks.

Can you believe this.

I don’t know WHICH though because I went out with Kate today after school and when I came home Siobhan [who was 7 years old at this point] had taken this message which I am going to keep FOREVER. I love her as much as life, you know. And listen to how CUTE she is. Her writing is in pencil, and it is huge and uneven:

“do a play at the same place on Thursday night at 7:30 URI Love Siobhan”

I can’t stand it.

I don’t know what it means, though. [hahahahahahahaha]

I’m gonna go tomorrow to see if there’s a cast list or a callback list. But can you imagine? If I even just made callbacks – I was good enough to be called back! This way at least I’ll know if I don’t make it that it wasn’t only because I’m in high school.

Oh My God

If I get into this my life will never ever be the same again.

Am I good? Someone tell me. Am I any good? I mean, this is getting to be big time.

What if I get a fuckin’ part in this thing?
What if I have gotten into this play?
I will die.

This weekend has been a rough one to get through, but I did it. And on my own steam. I feel very vulnerable right now. For some reason, all my defenses are down. I think it’s because of who I am. This weekend was not a weekend. It was crazy. I got no sleep. I ate nothing. And I went and acted – which further lowered my shields. Because no matter how much I want to be irrevocably me – and be free and unselfconscious – I have my walls up. But not now for some reason. I better be careful. Acting does lower my defenses. Sometimes I feel so scared in school because nobody would protect my vulnerability there.

SEPTMEBER 26

Diary — I made callbacks. There are about 12 girls called back — on the notice, it’s under a column titled: Women. [hahahaha That was a big deal – to be grouped under that headline, as opposed to “Girls”] There are 12 20-year-old Drama majors! I’m good enough to be called back!

Oh. But today was horrendous. First of all – Oh GOD – TS wasn’t called back. I know it has nothing to do with me, and I’m so disappointed for him. I haven’t talked to him yet. I know he knows cause on the notice on this bulletin board in the Centre we had to initial next to our names, so I know that when TS went he saw my name and my “SOM”.

Today’s Wednesday. TS and I were gonna go out. He hasn’t called. I wish I could talk to him. I WON’T apologize for making callbacks but STILL – he made me go, he’s a Drama major [this is hilarious – Once I got to college, I would never say the words “Drama major” – if anything it was “Theatre major” – which sounds much better, more professional … Drama major???]

There was one thing that happened on Friday that’s really confused me. [TS and I were dating. It was relatively new at this point. I was still freaking out about it. I never stopped freaking out, actually – but that’s what’s going on here. We would go out to movies once a week. He was 19. Out of high school.] We walked home in the dark – talked about our usual things – comedians, movies, drama. [Oh for God’s sake. How about “theatre”?? That’s a MUCH better word.] We talked a lot about Clint Eastwood. Then we got to Barber Lane – a small hill – totally surrounded by trees – and the darkness was almost liquidy there. It had substance it was so thick. I mean, I could feel that TS was there but I couldn’t see him. It was pitch black. As we turned down onto it, I heard TS sort of laugh, as a joke, ‘Hey — Sheila — what are you doin’ to me?” Oh, you’d have had to hear him. It was just strange. I was laughing at how dark it was, and then – suddenly – TS grabbed me tightly around the waist, pretending to be scared, going, “Lions and tigers and bears …”

I mean, it was like really dark. Suddenly, he had his arm around my waist – and he made it as a joke – you know – “Lions and tigers” – but I didn’t know what to do or what I was supposed to do. I mean, I could hardly see him. So practically immediately, TS let me go, and we walked to my house talking in a perfectly normal way. I was still like: WHAT JUST HAPPENED? [I love how important everything is.]

When we got to my house, all the lights were off, including in my parents’ room. I didn’t think of it until later but I should have at least invited him in.

So we were standing at the end of the driveway, and that’s when he suggested, “So … you want to go to Shadow of a Doubt next Wednesday?” [I love that we would go see these noir classics] I said yes.

He hasn’t called me. [This is really the main point here.]

Tomorrow are the final auditions. I have to go to those alone. Oh, I want to talk to TS. I wish we had gone out today. What a ROTTEN day. Now I’ll never go back to sleep. I have no damn stability in my life now. Too many crazy breathless things are happening: this play, TS, school, auditions –

I feel sick sick sick sick sick SICK

I feel so sick. [You got that?]

SEPTEMBER 27

Just came back from callbacks. Cast list up tomorrow.

[The following is written in miniscule letters.] I don’t even want to open my mouth. I just have to wait and see what happens.

[Back to regular lettering] It’s late now, but I’m still staring around me with bug eyes. [Wow. What an attractive image.]

Today was – my face was perpetually upside down. TS didn’t call.

What an awful week. [Really? Because it sounds like an excellent week to me.]

After I got off work, I had an hour and 15 minutes to wait – so I was going crazy. I wandered around. I bought a soda. I thought of calling J or something – but I decided: “No. I am, for once, going to do this with only me to supply the strength.” [GOOD FOR YOU!]

It was new for me. TS wasn’t there to help me. No one but me. As I walked alone up the Centre stairs, I was thinking, “Anyone who thinks I’m not strong doesn’t know me.” I didn’t feel strong – but I knew that I could do it on my own.

I was totally dying. Dying.

I was so so nervous. Nervous isn’t even the stupid word.

I want to tell details, but I also don’t want to. If I don’t get the part, I don’t want to talk about it again. Only ONE other girl was there for Millie, and I read for Millie more than she did. But I still don’t know.

When I become a Drama major [sigh], I hope I don’t turn into like some of those people I saw there. So fakey. So showoffy. I just sat in a corner, read my script, and glared at them. [hahahahahaha] The four guys who were reading were WICKED cool. I really liked THEM.

I think I did okay. Well. I DO.

There’s so much more to say – but I can’t talk details.

SEPTEMBER 28

I’m in I’m in I’m IN!

OCTOBER 1

What a weird weird awful wonderful day.

First of all, on Wednesday, I have a personal meeting with Kimber [the director of Picnic] cause he wants to get to know people he hasn’t had before as students. Oh dear Lord. Another thing to worry about!

Today in school they announced over the loudspeaker: “Congratulations to Sheila O’Malley, who was chosen for a role in the university production of Picnic to be put on in December.”

I’m sort of a little celebrity. Whenever Stephanie sees me, she sing songs, “Sheila’s a professional actress!” And Brian Records called down the stairs to me, “Sheila! Sheila!” I stopped and he came down to me saying, “I’m so proud!”

People are GREAT. I still can’t believe my life.

Look at my life! I have too much to think about, but I can’t throw any away, cause they’re all good things. But it’s OVERLOAD.

Oh Diary Diary Diary.

OCTOBER 2

Too much is happening right now. I have to calm down. The next few months are going to be absolute chaos.

I have to remain CALM.

OCTOBER 3

So anyways, I also had my meeting with Kimber. I was not at all getting psyched for it. Because today is Wednesday – stupid Film Noir night – every dumb Wednesday I just sit around sinking lower and lower and every time the damn phone rings, I just hold my stupid breath. I hate Wednesdays. [I love that I associated my high school sweetheart with Film Noir. It is fitting.]

So my meeting was at 4. I came home on the bus for about the 2nd time all year. Mum drove me up.

I walked up to the front doors. This building is a dramatic looking building – all cement, and this long walk up where you can see yourself approaching in the dark glass doors. Also, you can only see silhouettes inside. So up I strolled, trying to look like I knew what the hell I was doing. I came into the lobby, and there was Brett (the guy in the audition who smiled at me). He’s so CUTE. He struck me as so wicked nice, cause at callbacks, I was just sitting alone and he looked at me, smiled, and said, “And your name is?” I smiled and said, “Sheila. Hi.” He held his hand out to me. “I’m Brett. Hi.” It was so friendly, it really put me at ease. At the first audition, I came into the room – he and the girl were sitting there with Kimber – I glanced at them. He gave me this reassuring smile. As I was leaving, I was sighing in relief – that yes, I had lived – I glanced at him – He winked.

Diary, I CAN’T WAIT to get to know all these people! It’s so exciting! I cannot WAIT.

So anyways, he was standing there with the one other girl who had been out for Millie. You know, it’s funny – but at callbacks, I was just sitting there observing everybody and I didn’t know that she was trying out for Millie too, but I was looking at her, thinking, “Oh, I hope I don’t turn into someone like you.” I mean, she was funny, but she seemed “on” all the time. I think it’s great when first impressions are wrong. Because mine was. NEVER rely on first impressions. It’s a huge mistake, and it felt GOOD to be proved wrong.

Anyway, I came into the lobby, they both looked at me, and immediately both shouted, “Congratulations!”

Brett (who is adorable) hailed me, “Sheila! Congratulations!” I felt so happy, so welcome. Not alienated or too young at all. I walked over to them – Brett held his hand out to me – “Hello. I’m Brett – and you’re Sheila.” He paused to remember my last name. I said, “O’Malley.” The girl giggled, “Don’t you mean O’Millie?” She was COOL – I mean, yes – she is “on” – but she is also NICE. She held her hand out to me and said, “I’m Dina. I was out for Millie too, but you were the right choice – you’re much better than me.” [The generosity there is really quite stunning, and I mean that so sincerely.]

Brett hugged her mockingly and she said, “Hey, I’m being honest! Besides, I’m not the sort of person who goes –” and she started stamping around grumbling, “I DIDN’T GET THE PART! AHHHHH.” Brett grinned at me. “The minute you turn around, she’s gonna take out a hatchet.”

When I went back on Friday to find out if I got in, there was a dance class warming up in the lobby. I guess they were both there, but I didn’t see them. Brett told me that they watched me walk calmly by – and then 5 minutes later – watched me zoom back out at the speed of light. Brett said they had all been so excited for me, and excited to see my reaction, and they had wanted to talk to me when I came back from looking at the cast list – “But you were GONE. You ZIPPPPPED by!” I said, “So who are you in the play?” And he smiled at me – really cool and real smile, and said, “I’m your friend. Your buddy!” I said, “Oh! You’re Alan!” Wicked cool! Then I said, “Oh! I have a crush on you!” Brett said, seriously, “I’m flattered.” We all burst out laughing. He asked me, “So you’re a senior in high school?” I nodded. They were … nobody JUDGED me.

I can NOT wait to work with these wonderful people!

Brett said, “So you’re here to talk to Kimber?” I said, “Yes. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.” And Brett grinned at me – and said, “Then we will escort you to Kimber!” So they did. They brought me into the audition room where Kimber was waiting with this big fanfare. Brett yelled, “SHEILA O’MALLEY!” And he and Dina started applauding.

I also can’t wait to work with Kimber. After one meeting with him – I feel like I can improve so much. I learned incredible things I’ve never even thought of before. Like: don’t learn the lines. Just learn the words. Learn them in a complete monotone. Don’t interpret yet – because interpretation depends on the interpretation from other actors. Acting comes from reacting to other actors. So if you start interpreting the lines in a certain way on your own, you’re sort of depending on the other actor to give you a CERTAIN interpretation. And that’s bad. Then you can’t act and react in the moment. Kimber said that it’s harder to get out a good interpretation if you interpret on your own, alone – That thought had never entered my mind.

It’s all so great.

AMBITION!

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7 Responses to Diary Friday: “I glanced over at the two theatre majors and the guy grinned reassuringly at me.”

  1. Liz says:

    What a wonderful tribute to our dear friend Brett. He will not, could not, ever be forgotten….he was one of those people. He played many parts in his life with passion and energy – as only he could do. I was lucky to have known him and spent so many years laughing by his side.

  2. Melissa Sutherland says:

    Sheila: what a great bunch of people. I love “reading” your diary. Sorry he died. Way too young. That’s so hard. You really make him come alive here though. Thanks for that.

    Another weirdness: I played Millie when I was a senior in HS. Many, many years ago with the English Theatre Company of Brussels. Actually got a not bad review in some newspaper: Melissa Sutherland threw herself into her part, etc. (My translation). Anyway, this entry brought back so many memories. Have been following news of the revival going on right now. Did you watch the video on the NYT site that Elizabeth Marvel did of her best scene from the play? She’s amazing.

    Am now going to read your piece on Andy Kaufman. One of my faves, who also died way too young.

    Melissa

    • sheila says:

      Thanks Melissa. Brett was one of a kind. We all still miss him so much.

      Yes, I read Ben Brantley’s very funny review in the Times of the new Picnic, all about the abs of the lead dude.

      Picnic really belongs in the 50s – you have to get that sexual hothouse feeling or you’re screwed. You really have to feel that Madge is lost, LOST, when she runs off at the end – her mother has to be devastated, you have to feel that she has shuffled off polite conformist 1950s society and that that is a tragedy. The only hope is Millie, who wants to live an intellectual life and be a writer. She’s the only real nonconformist in that whole play – the only one who has a chance.

      I think you told me before that you played Millie – that’s great. She’s such a good part!

  3. Kate F says:

    Mexico: The flower of Europe!

    • sheila says:

      Hands down: the hardest I have ever laughed. I was 21 years old at the time and I still have not recovered.

      I miss you, Brett!

  4. jackie says:

    A beautiful tribute She…

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