This weekend was the HamilTEN Festival in my city. It’s a festival I’ve talked about a bit on here because my ten minute play A Spell for Schoolgirls was accepted into it and I was super pumped/anxious for it. Well, this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were our show days, it came and went so quickly, and now it’s over.
I had a lot of fun doing this show. It was my first time being a playwright and my first time directing a play. I’ve written scripts for the web series my sister and I make, and I’ve directed them too, but this was different. While my sister was cast as one of the characters in my play, I was all alone in directing. I didn’t have my sister to help me because I had to direct her and another girl that I’d only met because I cast her in this. I was so worried about being a bad director and this whole play being a joke, but somehow it managed to work out.
I give a lot of credit to the actors, my sister Meaghan O’Connor and Kyla Dowling, a motivated actress who I hope to work with again. They both had such dedication to the role, were so good at communicating and giving their ideas to the play, as well as both of them being absolutely phenomenal actors. They made my job as director so much easier, and made the play the success that it was.
We all put our hearts and souls into the past three days of performances, and I still can’t believe it’s over. My Saturday mornings are free again which means I can go back to my writing club, and I’m very happy about that, but I still can’t get over the fact that this play is over. I won’t be going over the script, worrying about props, or waiting for show day. It’s done, and now it’s onto…
I don’t know yet. I need to give my brain a rest and figure it out.
I forgot about the sadness that comes when a show finishes, the post show blues. The HamilTEN Festival is only for one weekend, and while a part of me wishes it was more so that we could enjoy the fun for just a bit longer I know it’s a good timeline. Shows can’t last forever, they have their run and then it ends and then we start prepping for the next one.
I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed theatre. It’s been a while, I was much more into it in high school and even did a bit of acting, but I decided to focus more on writing in university and kind of gave it up. This has been my first show in a long time and it’s given me a lot to think about with my own writing, with theatre, and if I want to do it all again.
Short answer: yes, definitely. I found out from the organizer of the festival that forty scripts were submitted into HamilTEN and only eighteen were chosen so I was incredibly happy to be one of those lucky few. And I hope the festival happens again next year and that I get in again because I will definitely be submitting something. But do I want to do more with theatre? A longer play? Something bigger?
I haven’t decided yet. Again, I have to give my brain a rest and think about it later.
But there is something about this weekend that’s been bothering me, more than it should, but I just can’t shrug it off. So I might as well write about it, because maybe I’ll be able to shake it off after that.
After the show there was an awards ceremony. HamilTEN runs as an audience choice show where the audience votes for which shows they liked best. All the playwrights and actors were invited after the final show to see who won each award.
Before the first, second, and third place show were announced the Festival Director wanted to give a shout out to all eighteen shows involved because even those who didn’t win should be proud of what they accomplished. The shout outs began, naming each play in the Red Show, the Blue Show, and finally the Green Show, my block. I was excited to hear my little shout out like all the other playwrights, when I was passed over to the last two shows in our block. It was clearly an accident, she was reading from the program and just happened to glance over mine and another playwright’s show, it happens. But it still upset me. Something I had worked on for so long and so hard, that both actors had dedicated three months into, and we were forgotten, skipped over like we were nothing.
My dad spoke up after the Festival Director finished reading off the plays, because everyone was clapping by then assuming that all the shows had been given a shout out, and she went back apologetically and gave us the little shout out we deserved, but it didn’t feel the same as the others. Nothing ever does after you’ve been forgotten.
And it shouldn’t bother me this much because it’s clear it was an accident. I know people saw us, and I know I should get over this, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been ignored.
Three years ago, the Hamilton Fringe Festival held a 24 Hour Playwriting contest that was supposed to be annual but only ended up happening once. I entered and won first place. The prize was a staged reading of the first, second, and third place plays at a local theatre, going from third to first. With each play the title, author, and a brief summary were introduced, but when they got to my play they just started the reading without saying the title or my name. When the staged reading was done and the Festival Director said her speech about coming to Fringe to spend more money, my dad stood up and made the acknowledgement that it was me who had written the play. Everyone clapped, and it was appreciated, but just like tonight it made me so sad that I wasn’t acknowledged for something I worked so hard on.
When did I become invisible?
Sometimes I think it was after my mom died. I know I distanced myself from a lot of my classmates in university, learned to sit somewhere new where people didn’t recognize me. The thought of going into my old haunts where people would know my mom was dead, more so the thought of being pitied put me so on edge that I hid. I just couldn’t stand the thought of people saying how sorry they were for me and me having to say it was fine when I wasn’t. It was easier to disappear into a corner and work where no one cared who I was.
So yes, I acknowledge a part of me did this to myself, but I also acknowledge that I didn’t like being invisible. I noticed that I didn’t talk to my friends as much as I used to, didn’t go out, didn’t do anything but write essays and finish school work. After that first year of my mom’s death I changed that. I went out more and I talk to more people because I didn’t want to disappear.
But I’ve kept myself from being invisible, or so I thought. I don’t know what it is about me that is so forgettable. Is it because I’m quiet? Because I listen more than talk? Because I’m an introvert? There’s only so much I can do before I become a different person, someone I’m not. I like who I am, I like the things I do, what do I have to do to be seen? I mean, I wrote a freaking play and had it performed for three days this weekend and in the end I still became invisible, if not briefly, and worse I made Meaghan and Kyla invisible too.
I talked to my dad about it, because sometimes writing can only do so much, and he told me what I already know. It was a mistake, and it shouldn’t bother me, and I told him about my frustrations. He told me that yes, it was unfair and weird that this kept happening, but every time it happened I just had to make sure I made myself seen. I have to remind whoever it is that I’m here, and maybe I’ll always have to do that, maybe there’s just something forgettable about me. But I refuse to disappear, and like it or not you’re going to see me.
(Selfie of Meaghan O’Connor, Me, and Kyla Dowling by me.)