Saturday, September 14, 2013

Being a part of a musical workshop

Me (second from the left) and the rest of the cast rehearsing The Fourth Messenger.
A few weeks ago, I got an email out of the blue asking if I was available to perform in a reading* of The Fourth Messenger, a musical written by Tanya Shaffer and Vienna Teng. Rehearsals would be less than a week, walking distance from my house, I'd be working with some professional idols, and by the way, I'd get paid too.

I said yes immediately, before they could change their minds!

The Fourth Messenger is a modern-day retelling of the Buddha story -- re-casting Siddhartha as (female) Mama Sid. It's already gone through a handful of readings and workshops in the Bay Area. And earlier this year, it had its world premiere in the Bay Area, a full-scale production mounted in Berkeley. Since then, Tanya, Vienna and director Matt August have been hard at work editing, polishing and revamping the piece.

Tonight we presented the updated work to a conference of Zen Buddhists at the San Francisco Zen Center, which is pretty much the most relevant audience you could think of for this subject matter.

Being a part of this was a total blast, and both the subject matter and the process were utterly fulfilling. It really gave me a jolt of "what am I here to do and how can I use my talents to do that?" at a time when I was really flagging creatively. I'm riding a high of purpose and gratefulness and serendipity, and I look forward to seeing where it all goes.

Meanwhile, it sounds like there are plans to eventually make a cast recording of The Fourth Messenger. Fingers crossed, maybe I'll get to be a part of it! Until then, I'll continue to make my own opportunities and enjoy what comes my way.

* Yup, just like Smash. Workshops and readings of plays and musicals really happen! It takes a lot of work to build a musical to its "best self."

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