My theatrical background is both reflective of who I used to be, as well as responsible for shaping me into the person I am today. I thirst for art. The kind that makes you feel truly alive with the glorious swirl of every emotion known to humankind. When you commit to watching a piece of live theatre, you are captive in your commitment to sit there for a few hours and listen to the actors tell you a story. It is beautiful, magnificent, and inescapably powerful.
Have you ever seen a live theatre performance? Remember for a moment the emotions the experience evoked in you. Ok… Now consider the fact that if you got overwhelmed by what you were feeling, you still had the ability to get out of your seat and walk away.
Now imagine that instead of having the ability to get up and leave, you were tied to your chair, your eyelids were held open, and there were speakers blasting the actors’ words into your ears. There is no escaping the story. You will hear it, whether or not you’re in the mood to deal with it today. This is what it is like as a theatre artist to commit to telling the story. No matter how badly you have been wanting to go see the latest Broadway show, I one million percent guarantee that the cast and crew are more dedicated to their performance than you are to seeing it.
We trap ourselves, through lifestyle choice, into telling a story for several hours at a time, for eight performances a week.
Some of us are born Feelers. When our feelings say, “jump,” we jump. When they say lay in bed for three days and cry, we do that too. Sometimes they tell us to love someone unconditionally at all costs, so guess what happens… As a result, we lose autonomy in this relationship with ourselves and become slaves to our own emotions. Society starts labeling us as “dramatic,” “sensitive,” “over the top,” “exhausting,” or, “crazy.” We become isolated.
Humans are a social species. We share pieces of our lives to connect with each other and ward off feelings of isolation. For Feelers, doing so brings us a sense of balance and control to our chaotic emotional wonderland. It allows us to make deliberate choices to evoke specific emotions in our audience so that we (and perhaps they) might not feel so alone.
A pivotal moment for my development as a theatre artist came in the form of a class field trip to San Francisco to see The Phantom of the Opera. I identified with the loneliness of the Phantom character and found the music comforting. For months after the experience, the soundtrack became my oxygen, and not a day went by when I didn’t listen to the whole show at least twice through. The fantastical Masquerade scene always lingered in my head the longest. The vibrant colors, the shiny metallics, the ornate detail on every surface of the stage, the dancing, the music, the mirrors… It was one such art experience that made me feel truly alive.
The idea of a party where everyone showed up to be someone other than themselves was completely enchanting.
Some turn to a career in theatre as a form of escapism. As Feelers, we are in an intimate relationship with every human emotion, and even we need a break. Stepping into a carefully crafted role as a someone else for a few hours each day is a vacation from our own minds and the pressure society puts upon us to be “normal.” I knew in my bones that I was destined to reach out to others and alleviate their loneliness through theatre, just as these artists has done for me.
Flash forward to October, 2017: The Contra Costa Cake and Sugar Art Show’s theme for the year was Masquerade Ball. It was the perfect opportunity to combine my two favorite art forms, theatre and cake. The music echoed in my head as my excitement grew.
“Take your fill, let the spectacle astound you!”
The color black has a myriad of different meanings in art. In theatre, black (or darkness) is a tool for creating illusion and allowing us to suspend our disbelief while we observe a story. It represents a blank, neutral slate. It is a part of everything we cannot immediately see and invites unlimited possibility. I chose to make the cake black to create the illusion of a floating mask.
The nod to the theater’s red curtain was achieved by adding tylose powder to red fondant, baking the board, then airbrushing dark brown shadows into the folds. The feathers were hand sculpted with a clay extruder and a dresden tool. The trim around the mask was hand modeled as well.
Copyrighted characters were not permitted in our competition designs, but this was not a concern. I was eager to capture the grandeur and texture of my favorite scene by using plenty of Rolkem Super Gold instead of the Phantom’s iconic white mask. The results were well-received.
Due to the 600 sq ft. size of my home, I don’t normally allow showpieces to take up valuable real estate. However, this one is currently breaking that rule and soaking up my admiration on a daily basis… A piece of myself, past and present, perfectly cultivated in a 12″ circular footprint. We keep each other company, and remind ourselves that loneliness does not need to be scary. It can also be a catalyst for great expressions of self.
So let your freak flag fly! Odds are you’ll be impacting just the right kind of person who shares a need for exactly what you have to offer.