one more thing

I’ve been a little distracted lately. Maybe you noticed? Probably, since I’ve all but ceased to post. I wasn’t completely honest when I made that list last week about all the stuff going on in my life. There was one more thing.

Last week my older son and I auditioned for a play at the local university. And got parts.


And then I stopped sleeping and partway lost my voice.

I have never acted before. I’ve always wanted to act, but there was no theater program in my high school and I was too intimidated and insecure in college to give it a shot. I wondered what it would be like to be a part of a cast, to learn lines, to rehearse. In fact, a couple years ago I made up a list of dreams, and “being an actress” was the first thing I wrote down. (Not that being in one play makes me an actress, of course.)

I’m on a steep learning curve. I’ve learned that a rehearsal time of 6:30 means you are ready to go at 6:30—signing in, getting dressed, all that stuff happens beforehand. I had to google to find out what a “green room” was (because the green room sure didn’t look all that green). I finally understand “blocking.” I’ve learned that when the stage manager says we have two minutes of break left, we’re supposed to say, “Thank you, two,” which, for some odd reason, makes me feel very British.

I still feel like my brain is getting flipped upside down when people say “stage left” and “stage right.” The other night the director was telling us to “center down” and I had no idea what she meant. I just stood there, clueless, and then my “sister” sat down on the bench and I realized the director was telling her to “sit down.” I’m so lost I no longer even understand regular commands!

My son is a Union soldier (and a non-speaking draft dodger) and a meeting house member. He carries a gun and tries to grab my stuff and my husband beats him up.

I am Edith, the next-to-oldest child in a family of five kids. I am newly married and get to act 15 years younger than I really am (shouldn’t be too hard, I’m afraid). I have disturbing dreams and visions—the one bedroom scene makes me think of Tevye’s nightmare in Fiddler on the Roof (though it’s nothing like it)—and my kids love hearing me rehearse them. I’ve taken to interjecting my lines into everyday life. For example, when my husband (the real-life one) makes a comment about me being stressed, I start wailing. “It’s like a raging river ripped me from the ground and dragged me down with it!” (Also, he now calls me “Eeeediiith,” in a creaky, old-man voice.)

I’m learning to navigate a hoop skirt. There will be corsets (and bloomers and chemises and petticoats and stockings and boots and skirts and bodices and bonnets and FLAME RETARDANT MATERIAL (though I don’t think I have to wear any, which is kind of good since my biggest childhood fear was of being burned at the stake) (though it would be rather dramatic to go up in flames, don’t you think?).

Oh yeah, and we have to sing. There are trios and rounds and mini solos. I am not a strong singer and have never sung in a choir, so that’s all new to me, too. (Go me!)

The other night, my brother graciously came over to help my son practice his bass lines.

I’ve been guzzling ginger-lemon (and lime) tea like my life depends on it. (Edith’s may.)

Performances are scheduled for the first three weekends in June. I’ll keep you posted.

This same time, years previous: apricot pandowdy, lemony spinach and rice salad with fresh dill and feta, hummus, and rhubarb sorbet


  • Ayrie Joyce

    Would love to come see the show – we're local. Hope you tell us where and when. A bit of advice about the lemon and lime – be careful how much citrus you put on your vocal chords. I was a voice major and I know that it is easy to dry your vocal chords out that way. The best advice is to stay really well hydrated. Avoiding dairy is also good (created mucus). Finally, find someone in the cast (or find a voice coach) who can teach you some good vocal warm ups. You wouldn't want to sing a show without warming up any more than you would want to run long distance without stretching. Break a leg! (If you haven't learned yet that's theater speak for Good Luck).

    • Jennifer Jo

      You will certainly hear more about the play, trust me.

      And thank you for the advice about the tea—I didn't know that. (Does the fact that it's made with honey help to balance out the lemon-lime damage?)

  • the domestic fringe

    That's so fabulous! I wish I could come see the play. I love that you're doing something on your dream list. So inspiring.

    Break a leg. Not for real, but isn't that what you're supposed to say? 😉

  • Margo

    oh Jennifer, that's so COOL. I'm so excited for you! Everything sounds like fun – I mean, why be in a play if you can't wear great costumes too? And sing. And be with your son.

    I haven't forgotten your belly-dancing. That rocked my world, too. I am so pleased about all this.

  • Rosanna

    Oh, I'm so jealous you get hoop skirts and corsets! I was Sarah the first year the play was produced, when I think it was a bit more shoe-string. I was supposed to sing a very short solo but they changed that after they heard me. Have fun up there!

    • Jennifer Jo

      I haven't been nixed from singing any parts yet, but it very well could happen. Especially now that I've lost my voice and sound like a cow with a foghorn.

  • Anonymous

    Do all young Mennos fearfully imagine how their faith would hold up against fire and tongue screws?

    Or did you just have strange childhood fears?

    • Jennifer Jo

      Didn't you, too, suffer from a wicked imagination and Mennonite indoctrination? Please don't tell me I'm the only one!

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