My complete breakdown last week caught me off guard and I didn't write about a very important happening on Wednesday night.
My good friend, from camp, then college, then now, had her directorial debut at University of Portland. She saved my date a few months ago I think. I put it on the calendar, and had NO idea what the heck "Eleemosynary" was, I couldn't say it, nor did I realize the significance when I booked it on my calendar.
Jenn came into my life when I was 12 or 13, we met at St Ives, the most run down cabin at camp Marshall in Montana, preparing to spend what would become the best two weeks of our summer for the next several years. Over our 6 or so summers together, we were best friends at times and fierce competitors at others...its hard being a small fish in a big (Flathead) lake. One day we could be found competing for the most active back during "Go Go Go Joseph" or winning Jim over by the most stunning smile + shimmer hands during "Old Dan Tucker", or trying to get asked to Banquet Night by the same guy, any one of which is most definitely openly gay these days. On the next day you'd find us gossiping while blowing our hair in bathrooms, arm in arm at campfire, "keeping on the sunny side", or crying and promising to write and call at the cast party after our last show. It's tough to be an early teenager girl in theater, competing for recognition and big hair and boys!
My second year at University of Montana, our paths crossed again. We didn't have a falling out or a reason to lose touch the first time, we just did. Life moved on and there were our regular lives + 64 campers per year to keep up with, and somehow we just didn't. This time we'd drink way too much together, randomly meet up at a SAE party's or the Bodega or Stock's, we'd share a drunken dance at the Ritz, and say we'd call and get together sometime, but we never did. We saw each other often, knew lots of the same people, but weren't really in touch. Jenn was very active in the drama program that I was only on the outskirts of. I didn't know how to fit in there, when I knew it wasn't my passion or my calling, even though it was my major and my scholarship (a whole other blog on that topic). I felt too normal and uncreative for the drama world and way to crazy and weird for the business world, and floated between my two majors without really having close relationships with people in either.
And then comes along a little thing called myspace. And a lady named Buffy requests me as a friend. Just as I'm about to delete the request (I think I'd KNOW if I knew some named BUFFY), I look at her profile. Buffy went to UM, she was in theater, she lives in Portland. Wait, do I know her...too much in common? As it ended it up, I didn't, though I do now. But she led me back to Jenn. I scrolled down her friends list, and there was my long lost friend from 10 years ago. Who had graduated, been a tour actor, a student again, a high school drama teacher, and was looking to go back to school. It was fun to reconnect, but it was a fairly superficial reconnect, what have you done, where do you live, what do you have going in your life, not much WHO are you and what are you like. During a trip she made to Portland in April 07, when I was pg with Addie, I saw her at Comedy Sportz, an improv show that she came to compete in while bring a load of students to the big city for workshops.
I was really in awe of her talent. She had never worked with any of the actors and she was AMAZING and confident and FUNNY. I felt proud of her. Proud that she did what she said she was going to do with her life, and proud that I knew her when... Also the pangs of anxiety knowing she was so meant for this, and I so was not. It was nerve wrecking watching her, and she pulled each and every performance seamlessly and with talented ease. At that show, she told me a little secret that she would be moving to Portland for grad school and a directing program.
When she finally moved here, Addie was born, and we did reconnect. One day in her new condo in North East Portland, Addie and I came over and stayed 6 hours. And it was wonderful. It was this friendship that took little effort because we both knew so much history. We had been friends since we were 12 years old, though knew little about each other's hearts. But if felt so effortless to get to a really close place.
In the last year, I've gone to as many of Jenn's performances as possible. Highlights being the Comedy Sportz World Championships, Neil Diamond's Rumors via Anonymous theatre, where no one in the audience knew who was in the show, actors get up from their seats with their friends and get on stage (but I did...she told me so she could get me there on a Monday night!), and now Eleemosynary.
What a highlight. I know that was definitely a very lengthy discussion to explain that I loved loved loved her show. But in order to properly explain how much I loved it, I felt that I needed to share how much I love her and how moved I was by the performance she orchestrated from these talented actresses. I got to sit next to her on opening night, between her and her dad, with her mom on the other side. I laughed and cried, and squeezed her hand a few times because I couldn't take my eyes away for a moment to let her know how much I thought of it.
I am so proud to know her. The script selection, the actresses, the thought she put into each motivation and helping the young talent develop their character. It was unreal. I felt her connection to people via the show in a way that I just can't do justice in words.
After the show I caught Jenn's mom on the way out of the theater. She thanked me for coming, I thanked her for coming. :) She thanked me for being a good friend to Jenn and I told her that the feeling was mutual. I'm proud of Jenn for not taking the easy road of comfort and changing what needed to be changed, questioning what needed to be questioned, and most of all for following her dreams. She continues to move out of her comfort zone, question the unquestionable, dream and do something about those dreams.
Eleemosynary means of or relating to charity. It explores the relationships between a grandmother, mother, and daughter. It examines the crazy things women do and the motives behind why we hurt each other out of our own selfishness-trying to do our best, and the baggage that we all carry because of it. It uses words and their spelling & meaning to express emotions and discusses how unique intelligence can hinder the best of intentions. It was heartwarming and heart aching all at the same time. If you ever ever see this play playing near you, go see it, it is wonderful. Unfortunately for you, it will not be as good my Jenn-made performance. If you ever see "Directed by Jenn Hunter"
on the Marquis, you must go inside and buy a ticket.