One night, I was managing a show called The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia at a tiny bookshop in downtown Buffalo. I could fit maybe 15 people comfortably in there at a time, but this particular evening at least 20 folks showed up, one in a wheelchair. It was my job to handle the crowd while they were in the small space, and so I did what had to be done. I stood on the stage area and announced we were all going to play a game of Tetris. The crowd laughed. I then comically rearranged all these strangers so that everyone could sit comfortably, and so the woman in the wheelchair could get a spot in the front row. For five or ten minutes, I just riffed, no problem. In my head I thought, what is this, if not acting? I mean, it’s basic improv. I’d been onstage acting for so many times in my life at that point, that it was just natural.
Now, I don’t believe I have lost this ability, but technology has altered it. As it turns out, I have no stage-fright, but I am painfully camera-shy.
I never liked having my picture taken, and with the advent of the selfie I was very cautious. But now, things are changing again, and it is videos that rule the world. And I just can’t.
I’ve made a few. The ones where I introduce myself and read a poem are best. The one I made for the suicide walk didn’t turn out too bad, but I stumbled a little, and my palms were sweaty, and my heart was racing. Then came the Patreon idea.
On my Patreon, I have The Vociferous Vlog, where I read a poem and then talk about the inspiration behind it. In theory, it’s a really good idea, but as it turns out, videos are not my strong suit. I should have realized…I’d always rather read the article, y’know?
The first one I made was ok, but E and I did it together and couldn’t quite get the angle on the camera right. I was far away and not as clear-sounding as we had hoped. The second one was worse, because Mark tried to hand-cam it and shook the whole time, which wasn’t even obvious until I uploaded it to the computer. Then, it looked terrible. I looked good, but I also kept my eyes down the entire time, which is something I will have to work on.
You would think I would be better at this. And also, I’ve done plenty of Zoom calls during the pandemic, and never felt this way about those…perhaps because I’m talking with someone? PLUS, my Patreon is just starting out and only has a few subscribers, so why am I bugging over people I KNOW seeing me in a video?
No really, I’m asking. I have no answers.
I know that you could drop me in the middle of a stage and I could entertain for an hour. I know it. But to get me to film myself doing five minutes of poetry talk on my own? Nope. I try to summon the theater person deep within me but I guess she’s sleeping (likely due to some SSRI’s,) and won’t be coming to my aide today, at least.
I shall try again tomorrow.