Waiting in the Wings: Part 2

Months ago, I wrote about the “emotional perils” of being in theater. I talked about how passionate I was about it and yet how excruciatingly exhausting it could be,waiting in the wings.

You invest so much of yourself and your time and yet the show itself (or at least the scenes you’re part of) can be so short and fleeting. You invest in workshops and lessons, sacrifice your downtime, lose time with your loved ones, rush after work to get to wherever rehearsals should be. Then, you begin to doubt yourself and your abilities… You begin to resent the situation and yourself even. You begin to want to quit (and I mean quitting when you’re not even ahead or anywhere close to the peak of your race).

This  reminds me of college and how I spent most or all of my time with Ateneo Blue Repertory. It was only after graduating (and trying to figure out what to put in my resume), that I realized I could have and should have spread my wings more and gone in different directions or explored other avenues. I realize I might have been “limiting” myself by putting all my eggs in one basket—that I might have been boxing myself too much in the world of theater.

Thus, I began to explore myself and rediscover the things I loved doing or the things that interested me at least—going out, doing events (The Black Fleet), writing (via this blog), teaching children (I applied and actually almost accepted a teaching job). Instead, I joined the family company and set up a playroom for grieving children.

And so I asked myself, what happened to that? What am I still doing here and why am I still here? Why am I back where I started? Why am I still waiting in the wings? As I continued to wrack my brains for answers, I’d have moments of doubt, self-pity and angst even, thinking to myself:

“Maybe I’m still here because I’m just stubborn (I’m Taurus eh), and I hate the feeling of losing or falling short.”

“Perhaps I just want a taste of getting something I earned or worked really hard for. And while I’m still not getting it, here I am, frustratedly waiting in the wings.”

“Maybe I’m not really cut out for this. Maybe I’m not talented enough to make it. ”

“What if I’ve wasted all these years of my life, forcing it, when it’s not meant to happen? So… I slaved away in blueREP, went to London and back, for nothing?”

“What if directors give me roles out of pity? Or worse, because they just like me?”

“Why am I feeling this way? Didn’t I used to love doing this? Didn’t I do all of this before, without an ounce of worry or so much as a complaint?

I guess what makes all the difference now is that I’m not getting any younger. I feel myself getting older by the second, with daily worries about one’s career and wanting to get ahead. Time has become a commodity and I’m perpetually squeezing it dry. I’m always running, running, running and it feels like I haven’t accomplished much. And because I spend so much time, investing my heart and soul into theater, it’s become a little difficult to be sure of myself now—to be sure that what I’m doing with my time is actually leading me somewhere in life. 

Call it a protracted quarter life crisis but you’re never quite sure. It’s not as easy as it used to be.  It’s not easy at all, trying to keep your dreams, while confronting the realities of adult life. Am I supposed to put my dreams on hold or back in my pocket? Should I say goodbye to musings for now, and live life, as normal working people do?

Right now, I’m doing Peter Pan, my first production with Repertory Philippines (a dream come true in itself). I play a mermaid and am part of the ensemble cast. While I love being part of the ensemble and I think it’s an utter privilege being part of any company, it’s also a given (and I’m sure other actors would agree) that one dreams of getting that “big break” one day. We all yearn for that—the big break, that singular moment on stage, the culmination of one’s dreams and hard work.

I must admit (Please don’t judge me for feeling the way that I do) that there were moments during rehearsals that I felt quite dispensable and inconsequential, as if my presence (or absence) would not have made a difference. I know they say that the fact that your role exists means it plays at least some significance. But it was sheer insecurity, a piercing sense of self-doubt that kept telling me I was a disposable part of the cast.

Yesterday however, fate offered me a bit of respite—a moment of resolution and realization.  I had a no-holds-barred, tell it like it is, “do it like a bandaid” conversation with my good friend and mentor, Missy Maramara. And it was then that I realized how SELFISH I had become. I’ve spent all this time, thinking external factors to be the cause of my theatrical “demise” when in truth, I’ve been a SELFISH, BRATTY LITTLE ACTOR, limiting myself  by doing everything on the surface. I don’t allow people to access the real depth of Sab because I’m too caught up in my insecurities.

As another good friend tried to elaborate on why she thought I wasn’t getting the breaks I “deserved”, she said it was because I was “so insecure. And directors can see that”. It all made perfect sense now; everything I had learned from teachers of the past. It’s like something that’s been staring you right smack in the face, with you still missing it. 

It’s all the same, what they all say and teach— that great actors share themselves generously and genuinely, without worrying too much about fluff or frill or whatever the audience might be thinking, liking or hating. It’s worrying about your character (no matter how big or seemingly insignificant it is) and claiming that character, that truly matters.

I’m still waiting in the wings, that’s for sure. But I’m done having a pity-party for myself. I am truly privileged to be in theater, to continue learning and growing, to momentarily doubt then believe again afterwards, to be playing any role–a role that’s part of the bigger and greater whole. It’s why I fell in love with theater in the first place. It’s the only place I know where people from all walks of life, come together, rehearse for months, take on big or small roles, all in passion and love for the wonderful world of theater.

It’s not so bad waiting in the wings after all,

especially when you know you have so much more to learn,

to give, to explore and to offer.

Waiting In the Wings Part 1: https://sabboudoir.wordpress.com/2010/12/05/waiting-in-the-wings/

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14 thoughts on “Waiting in the Wings: Part 2

  1. Hi SAB !!!! the first time we work together in BATBOY the musical i can see your passion in theater and i told myself i can see this girl doing prof theater production someday. You are so talented. Then came THE WEDDING SINGER your first prof theater production (we are dance partner in the opening number ha ha ha) in 9works we saw something special in you thats the reason you’ve been part of the cast. 9 works want to train young blood who is talented and passionate in theater and you have it. 9works believe in you guys you, mian and bym that you will be successful in this field. Then came RENT dec 2010 you made a mark in your performance. Maraming young theater actors want to be part of that production and wish they were you. IN TIME you will have your big break in theater. Like me already 5 years in business but still waiting for my BREAK. I just treasure every moment and thankful of all my real friends in theater.

    • Awwww hi Jon!!! It means a lot, hearing this from you. I’m sure you get how I feel. As Ikey said, we all question ourselves and doubt ourselves at some point. I guess, I’m just having a little “crisis” where I keep asking myself whether I’m meant to be in this for the long haul and whether I have what it really takes. Tao lang ako so siyempre marami akong insecurities about my abilities hahaha. I’m so thankful I have true theater friends like you. Please promise me lang one thing? Promise me that you will be honest with me, whatever happens. That even if my performance was “chaka”, YOU WILL TELL ME THAT IT WAS CHAKA, and not lie to me! Hahahaha! I am going to stop complaining and doubting. I will PATIENTLY WAIT IN THE WINGS and look forward to more theater opportunities! Mwah! Love ya, Jon-Jon!

      • Promise i will be honest with you and not lie in your performance. Always remember that you are lucky to be a theater artist you’ve got a chance to share the talent that GOD gave. Just GIVE what you have. Mahalin mo ang theater and in the right time mamahalin ka rin nito maniwala ka sa akin 🙂 Looking forward to share the stage again with you and perhaps will be partners again in the opening number ha ha ha ha ha 9works family loves you

  2. This is truly inspirational! You are a gifted writer, as well as a performer. One thing I would like to say though, is that I believe you have underestimated the effect you have on other people! I’m so glad you came to London and Guildford, because we didn’t just learn from the teachers, we learnt from each other… we learnt from you.

    Your dedication is incredible- to make such a big journey all the way here to do something you’ve set your heart on is something I think very few people could achieve. Laura and I still talk about you- wondering where you’re off to next. Met up with Chris Saddler over the summer- he was asking the same thing too! I guess what I’m getting at, is that it takes a very special and talented individual to leave such an impression, especially after only working together for two weeks.

    Being insecure… isn’t that human nature? It’s part of what makes us human- our vulnerability, our mortality. I have many insecurities and worries- and sometimes they’re hard to live with. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, after all. I’m a believer that everyone has their demons, their worries and insecurities, as you do! Offer the bad with the good- and then they’ll see the full package. It might not be easy… but there’s a saying that I’ve only just begun to understand.

    “If it’s not hard, it’s probably not worth doing.”

    Nevertheless, I wish you the best where-ever you are- across oceans and seas! I think you’ve got that spark, that ‘x’ factor… whatever it is, I think you’ve got it. On top of that you’re dedicated and a hard worker, and you’re passionate (“An ambassador for your art” as the tutors at Guildford have been saying). I truly believe that if you stick with it, you’ll get to where you want to be. Happiness.

    Your friend,
    David
    x

    Ps. Best of luck for clean and clear- if we were in Asia, we’d be voting for you, no doubt!

    • Hi David! It’s so good to hear from you! And you don’t know how much it means to me to be hearing all these things from you! Half way across the world, at that! Ha-ha! I’m a little bit jealous and surprised that you, Laura and Chris didn’t tell invite me to your little get-together but oh well… Hahahaha I’m kidding!

      If I could fly there in an instant, I would. Back then, life seemed much “simpler” and it’s as if I knew exactly what I wanted to do (especially in terms of my theater career) but then things happen and you begin to doubt yourself and all that. If there’s one thing I’d like to change in myself, it’s the deep-set insecurities that won’t seem to go away. And I know that in order to become a better performer, I have to look beyond that and focus on what I need to do.

      It’s so touching that you guys still remember me. It’s been over a year and yet I know that what we shared will “bond us for life”. All of you have made a huge impact on me as well. When I was still there, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What am I doing? I don’t know what I’m doing. BUT THESE PEOPLE KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING!”. You were all such amazing performers, it kept me on my toes! Ha-ha!

      I really appreciate you leaving me a message. It could not have come at a better time. Thank you, David! Wishing you all the best as well! Do say hello to everyone for me! I plan to go back to London when I have enough money for it! I don’t think my parents will be willing to sponsor another trip! Ha-ha!

      You take care! I miss all of you!

  3. In fair binasa ko lahat yun ah. I deserve an award! HAHA. At least your pity party’s ended cheng. And when something ends, it can be a chance for something new to begin. 😉 If you want to get ahead, you got to take a step forward and I think you’re being in Peter Pan is a good step (if you catch my drift :p).

    Keep on going if it makes you happy. Keep on going if its something you love and at then end of it all, 40 years from now, if you can see yourself still doing the same thing you’re doing now and loving every bit of it, it means you made the right choice.

    Good luck chong. Or rather, break a leg. Sobrang antok na ko and I hate it wala kayong rehearsals cuz wala yung fwendz ko. AHIHIHI. And more importantly, ASAN NA HOT DATE KO? WAHAHAHAHA

    • Hahaha, kung binasa mo yung BUONG BLOG KO (which I must say is LONG), THEN YOU DESERVE AN AWARD! HAHAHA! Yes, I’m done with the pity-party na. I’m throwing a birthday party! Weh… You know what I mean. I will stop worrying and getting easily affected by these things. And I’ll make myself a better actor (I think) by leaving all these insecurities behind.

      Yes, I think we all know that theater makes me happy. I don’t think I’d still be in this if it didn’t. Hello, close to 13 years of my life din noh. Haha. But yeah, I’ll just take it one step at a time and see where this journey takes me. I won’t expect na. I’ll only HOPE. Haha naks.

      Anyway, I will see your butt tomorrow! And yes, we must work on your HOT DATE SOON! Eh kasi naman, how will we do that if we’re always at rehearsals? Kailangan hot ka rin on that day! 😛

  4. But kidding aside… wait I wasn’t kidding.

    BUFFET PLANS aside, you know what? I think that you think too much. So much so that you forget to enjoy what you’re doing. Your thoughts become your preoccupation as opposed to the things that you’re actually doing, whatever it is.

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe that introspection as valuable and necessary to every performer’s life. Actually, it’s valuable to every person’s life. However, sometimes, too much thinking can be harmful because it hinders you from living in the moment, appreciating where you are now, focusing on what you need to do, thus, possibly making you baselessly discontented and dissatisfied. Why? Because all you tend to see when you think too much and too long is what you don’t have and where you are not. You don’t get to see that what you’re doing now is a contribution to the bigger picture. Cliche as it may sound, I think it still rings true.

    So chin up. See what you have going for you now (which is, I must say, a lot) and be thankful. Be content but not complacent. I won’t tell you to dream big because I know you already do, but just keep hustling at it. Someday you’ll be center stage under the spotlight.

    Labyu. 😀

    PS – What are you talking about na “quarterlife crisis?” Anoba. You’re much too young for that, okay? Please enjoy your youth more. Take it from me. 😛

    • Yes, Nik, I think TOO MUCH. Parang hindi mo pa ko kilala eh. :))) I’m such a thinker nga raw that I forget to feel. This, according to Sir Lionel. Haha. Ateneo daw kasi taught me to think too much so ayun, as a performer, I have to remember to feel and be in the moment and just let go.

      Generally, I think I’m just really anal as a person and I do forget to seize the moment and just ENJOY. I have to be constantly reminded of these things. And yes, you’re right. I must be grateful and content. I should stop thinking my life to be going nowhere but rather believe that it could go somewhere. I’m going to start thinking happy thoughts na talaga.

      “Someday you’ll be center stage under the spotlight.”—-
      I hope you’re right. Haha. But either way, if it doesn’t happen, I’ll still be happy knowing I tried and that I gave it my all. No regrets na. No looking back.

      Miss you, Nik! Labyu too haha. By the way, I can’t believe binuking mo sarili mo. Now, everyone knows you’re OLD. Kidding. You’re so young at heart, it makes me jealous. Haha.

  5. In fair, binasa ko siya nang buo. Kahit nafeel kong mahaba siya.

    But I’m glad I read it. Ate, while I was reading this, I couldn’t help putting myself in your (big) shoes. char. I kept asking myself. What if ako yung nakafeel ng ganon. I know it sounds so shallow and patawa but whenever I feel insecure and vulnerable, I’d just tell myself, “yuck pwede ba? ganda lang, keri yan! Because no matter what people say, you won’t feel weak unless you allow yourself to feel that way. Same way na people won’t make you feel stronger until YOU decide that it’s time to “end the pity party”. Don’t get me wrong though. Sometimes it’s good to take a moment, feel vulnerable and just let things go. Bilang sabi ni Bob Marley, “There’s nothing wrong with feeling weak and vulnerable. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you.” (sobrang ganda no???)

    So ate go ahead. Question yourself. Feel vulnerable. Just make sure you do not dwell. And just make sure you tell yourself na keri mo yan and maganda ka. And ano ba. Hindi mo deserve ang mag sulk nang O no. Seriously. Do not think too much. Let things happen. Let life happen. If things don’t go your way, ganda lang. Know that good things WILL happen. I love you and I miss your fez na! 🙂

    • Hahaha I love you, Aye. Kaya nga I never “blog” on FB kasi kulang sa space! :)) And mabuti naman you put yourself in my BIG shoes. (Wenk wenk). Anyway, thank you for the vote of confidence, Aye. Di ko nga alam kung ano yung trauma ko nung bata ako na naging ganito ako ka-insecure. It’s really deeply ingrained and nakakafrustrate kasi alam ko naman that it’s become a hindrance to a lot of good opportunities. I overthink and I forget to just let go. Tuloy, I end up focusing on my fears and insecurities and not showing what I’m really capable of. Kaya siguro hindi ako maka-“let go” sa theater kasi alam kong marami pa akong pwedeng “ibuga” at ibigay. haha. Anyway, bago pa to humaba, I will promise not to sulk anymore. I’m really done with pitying myself. Nakakasuka na. I’m just gonna do my fricking best and see where life takes me. Kung palain at bigyan ni Lord ng big break, then THANK YOU, kung hindi, THANK YOU PA RIN. I love you too! And see your butt soon. Dami mong dapat ikwento sa kin, bilang “FINALLY” ang status mo fairly recently. Alam na. Anyway, I’m happy for you! Mwah! 🙂

  6. I feel like we’ve talked about this so many times na and reading this blog is like a very articulate summary of all our discussions in the past. i’m glad you’re past your pity party. like aye said, it’s okay to question yourself and to allow yourself to feel vulnerable. i know you’ve been trying to just let it go and rise above it… and i hope you do it soon (if you havent already)! because then you can start really showing everyone what you’re made off! you can do so much more when you’re not being insecure! tama si missy, directors can sense insecurity, if only because you’re just giving less than half of what you can really do when you’re caught up in insecurities! i’ve seen you perform when you’re nacoconscious (yung tipong sobrang ganda na but you’re holding back) and i’ve seen you perform with abandon! it’s such a big difference! you can channel your energy to being the best mermaid/londoner/crocodile/whatever-role-directors-throw-at-you and really prove yourself as an actress who can shine in any role, instead of wasting your time second guessing yourself! because you CAN really shine in anything, sab! i’ve seen you do it countless of times! remember, when we were skaterdudettes, you had the best costume and you were super filled with personality, character and energy! we didnt have that big a role back then, but YOU made it big! YOU made it matter. YOU made it stand out. so if you can just go past that feeling of being inconsequential, you can make something magical with whatever role you’re presented with. we’re all waiting for our big break. there are people who’ve auditioned more times than they’ve actually been on stage! but look at you! your success rate is pretty high already, and you’re just starting palang! 3 productions na and its your 1st year off of college and in the world of pro theater! girl, dont small small dat (translation: wag mo ismolin)! try to put things into perspective and you’ll see just how much you’ve done! these people who cast you (veterans in the industry) didnt put you there for nothing! whether it be for your unbelievable talent, luminous personality or artistahin good looks and sexy body, you were cast for a reason… just like anybody else who has ever been on stage! OWN IT! because i know this for a fact, when you’re done with your pity party, you will be golden! GOLDEN!

    i have something else to tell you, a post script if it can be called that, but i’ll tell you nalang when i see you. remind me! love you, sab the yeti!

  7. Hi Ate Sab! I may be reading this a little late, which means that you may be past what you’ve written here, but I could not help but pen a reply. Believe me, nothing you have thought or written here is new or original. It has been thought and felt by me, by my friends in theater, by EVERYONE I know in this crazy industry. In fact, no matter how many years you’ve spent here, and no matter HOW MANY “BREAKS” you get, you will still feel this way. BELIEVE ME, I’ve heard it all, felt it all, gone through it all. May I share with you what I have learned, that it may perhaps lead your to find your security.

    1. There is no such thing as A BIG BREAK. Yes to the audience or the press or to the judge-y people out there, maybe they will declare one as the moment when they turn their attention to you and you break through to their consciousness. But to YOU, to ME, to us actors, EVERY ROLE, EVERY SCRIPT, EVERY SHOW is a BREAK. There is no ONE BIG role or show that will mark you as a legitimate actress or will give you the assurance that you can do this. That has to come from somewhere deeper, somewhere divine. So treat your mermaid as you would your Lady Macbeth. Weave your characters intricate and real and fun for you, no matter how few your lines or time onstage, so that in portraying them you will find yourself expand as an actress, and the journey of this show is not wasted. Tito Audie always likes to tell me that he never played a lead role til he was in his 30s. And I am led to believe he spent all the years before that developing himself in the support and “mermaid” roles. Still, the lead role is not the prize. The craft is the prize, if I could dare call it that. Go for the craft, and honor each role with the reverence and work it is due.

    2. Do you know why you are insecure? Its because you are anchoring your security on the wrong things. What you need to find out for yourself is whether this is your calling. What is a calling? It is something that God created you for. This is not to say that we are created for only one thing. But what you must ask yourself, what you must ask God to show you, is whether you are called to do this. Because if you base your life’s course and your happiness on your talent, on whether you get in a show or not, whether you get a role or not, you will keep faltering. There will always be people better than you, younger than you, more prepared than you… There will be shows and roles you’re not right for, and if you do not anchor yourself in a deep-rooted, unshakable knowledge that, “yes, this is what I’m called to do. This is what I was created for” then you will be shaken with every disappointment. But if you knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that this is your CALLING, that God created you with this career in mind, made you this voice type, with this height, with these experiences, and all the other facilities you bring with you as an actor, there would be no room for insecurity. God had a purpose for making you exactly as you are. (Not to say we do not train and improve ourselves, of course.) You could play mermaids all your life and declare yourself the best actress in the world, because you were fulfilling your calling. And you know what, when God calls us to do something, He does not abandon us to work at it alone. He increases our talent, gives us miraculous opportunities, and divine favor, because He Himself will help us succeed. I have heard it said that He does not give us our dreams only to frustrate us. So go and ask him, and let Him settle this question within you, so that you can be released towards what He has created you for. How will you know His answer, you ask? You will know. Like how you know what your favorite food is or who’s smile makes you feel all tingly inside. God knows you better than anyone else does and He’ll find His unique way to make sure you know the answer to your question.

    Sorry for the length. I was encouraged by all the other replies that were lengthy as well. Hahaha. If what I’ve learned could spare you from needless confusion, my sufferings are redeemed. Hahaha! You know I love you like a sister. Kwento to me what happens k? Mwah!

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