According to my latest calculations, I can never rest.
If you’re wondering why I have been absent from this “blog” segment of the site since this past December, it’s because I haven’t exactly had time to breathe. Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration—but I have, indeed, been busy. Like, going straight from the rehearsal period for one play I’m acting in straight into another, while also trying to adapt to my new job at ASC, while also trying to keep up with my NCP dramaturgy and miscellania, while also continuing to compulsively cover every production that comes my way—not, mind you, because anyone is making me, but because, especially for the smaller shows, if I don’t cover them, then it often seems likely that no one will. Out of some bizarre sense of duty—or maybe just a fear of ever letting anyone down.
Because, say, it isn’t like each individual thing is really that much work, right? How long does it take to write one little article that might make a huge difference to the group or person it’s about? It’s just when you start adding these “little” articles on and on and on….
You see, the thing is with me, is that I have always relied on the adrenaline of deadlines to be remotely functional. In fact, you could even say the reason for all this frenetic activity—this semi-compulsive overcommitting—is that it’s a bit of an elaborate attempt to trick myself out of my own laziness. Because if I tell someone I’m going to do something, well I’ve got to actually do it, right, and not watch Netflix and play Candy Crush all day?
Which I pretty much always do.
Or, to put it another way, I have a bit of a habit of throwing myself into borderline impossible situations in the hopes of forcing myself to handle them—rather like throwing myself off of a deep end in the hopes that maybe I can swim.
It’s a bizarre time. On the one hand, I have, in being so involved with various facets of the local theatre community, gotten exactly what I always wanted. On the other hand, it’s like I’m trying to do so many things that it has felt increasingly impossible for me to do any singular thing well. It seems, at the beginning of every week, that perhaps if I can only Catch Up, then maybe I can simply stick to a schedule from then on….and then each week instead seems to devolve into a draining mishmosh of chaos, and I’m ever-exhausted in the lurch.
Is my problem FOMO? Perhaps, partially. But it might also be this: that, fundamentally, I lack a sense of being anchored. It’s as if I need to keep my hands in as many different pots as possible because it feels safer than prioritizing any singular allegiance—even my job, the most potentially practical one—because I’m afraid of putting my all into something and never seeing a return.
And, you know what, I think I’ll tell you another secret: I’m quite aware that there’s a sense in which I immerse myself so completely in the theatre so that I have an excuse to avoid living my life. To avoid figuring out what it is that I actually want out of life—and to avoid, god forbid, actually having a spare minute in which I could write my own plays rather than worry about everybody else’s or memorizing age-old lines. I’m a constant commuter careening between worlds without ever being quite at ease in any of them, living in a state of frenzy because I fear the quiet that comes with peace.
As I said, I have absolutely no one to blame but myself for this strange state of affairs. There are no bullets in my belfry, no gun to my head. But after actually having dropped the ball regarding a few things I really care about lately, I’m finally starting to question my usual mode of operations…. as tech week for A Midsummer Night’s Dream, my latest adventure in acting, begins today. So, you know, no chance of things chilling out any time soon.
Not to say that I’m not also excited to be playing my first non-shepherd role in one of my favorite Shakespeare plays—it’s just that I feel as if I’m at some sort of turning point, on some sort of precipice, an indescribable verge. And, having had it both ways, I do actually prefer being too busy to breathe to feeling disconnected and purposeless—so you know, maybe I should just be careful what I wish for? Or maybe as the summer theatre lull approaches, that elusive “catching up” will finally start to happen; and then maybe one day I will finally hear myself think.
In any case, if you do want to see me take the stage before this current mid-spring month of madness comes to an end, you can find out more about A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you can find more info about it here!
Ilana Jael earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in Writing and Psychology from Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College. She also served as co-founder of the student theatre troupe “Theatre in the Raw.” She has been dabbling in both playwriting and acting since high school. A few favorite roles include Rebel in Columbinus (Bob Carter’s Actor’s Rep), The Fearful One in The Cave (G-Star School of The Arts), and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (Theatre In The Raw). Her one-act plays Goodbye, Karma’s A Bitch, Certainly Not About Him, and Open Heart have also been previously performed at Actor’s Rep and/or at Florida Atlantic University. More recently, Ilana appeared in and created the original musical ZeeZou’s Stardust Extravaganza with Area Stage’s Miami Queer Theatre Collective. Her short plays have been produced virtually by New City Players, Theatre Lab, and Femuscripts. She is also a current company member of New City Players, and you can check out her theatre blog at ilanaintheatreland.com!