This is a first draft. The first draft is always the most authentic. I’m trying to be authentic. Honest.
This is also an assignment for a class.
I only have five minutes to introduce myself. For some, the word “only” may cause guffaws and incredulity. Eeking a minute out of an introduction, for some, is a task fit for Hercules.
Me, however, I tend to be verbose. Voluminous. Blovial, even. Five minutes for me is a blink. Too short to “tell” you who I am. It’s too complex of a question to be summed up so succinctly. At best, you get a truncated snapshot of a man that defies simple definition.
Of course, I could take the easy route. This is, after all, a (deceptively) simple assignment for a workshop class I really have no sense of, yet.
I could tell you simple facts, such as:
Born: April 11, 1980 in Beaumont, Texas, but subsequently adopted and relocated to Houston
Grew: A brief stint, during my toddler years, in Ft. Worth, followed by a permanent move to Burleson, TX
High School: Burleson
Undergrad: Hardin-Simmons University (mj: Communication; mn: Psychology)
Graduate: University of North Texas (Communication – Performance Studies/Rhetoric)
Current: UT Dallas (Arts & Humanities – Aesthetic Studies)
Employment: Journalist for Theater Jones & Teaching Assistant at UT Dallas
Other: Writer, Actor, Director, Performance and Installation Artist, both in theater and film
I also help out other burgeoning artists, like Kim Jackson:
Grip, short film, 2009
We Can Fix It, installation art, 2014
…and then I woke up, solo performance, 2014
Does this give you a sense of who I am? Telling you facts and showing you a couple of pictures?
How about I tell you a quick story?
In second grade, I decided to audition for the school talent show. No one had prodded me to audition, and in fact, no discernible talents had yet manifested in me. There was no reason for me to audition for the talent show except that, for whatever reason, I wanted to.
So, as most people at this thing just get up and sing a song, I decided to do the same. For my song, I picked Billy Idol’s Mony Mony.
But, I had no help. I didn’t tell anyone, not my teachers or parents or even friends, that I planned to audition. Therefore, I showed up for the audition completely unprepared.
First, I was using a regular tape, instead of an instrumental version. So, I’d be singing right along with Billy.
Second, I had rewound the tape to the beginning of the side, despite the fact that Mony Mony was the last song.
So, I stood up there on stage, in front of all of my classmates, wearing an outfit that, appropriately, looked like it was cobbled together by an eight-year-old trying to look cool, when the wrong song began playing through the gymnasium speakers.
My stunned silence alerted Mrs. Griswold to the problem. “Is that not the right song?”, she said. I nodded.
And for the next several minutes I stood in the middle of the stage, nervously looking at Mrs. Griswold as she attempted to find the right track.
Finally, my mortification became too much and I said “yes” to yet another question of whether she’d found the right song. She hadn’t. It was the song before Billy’s, and I didn’t know it.
Not that I knew Billy’s all that well. I didn’t have any lyrics for it. I’d just sat in my room listening to the track over and over attempting to discern what he was saying, which if you’ve ever listened to Billy Idol, can be tough. Especially for an eight-year-old.
So, I powered through my mistake, usually only syncing with the lyrics when the chorus came up and the words “modern love” (no, not the Bowie song) were sung.
It was failure of the level that would make the ’76 Buccaneers proud.
But, something peculiar happened after this bomb of an anti-performance. As I made my way back to my seat on the gym floor, I expected to be the target of relentless harassment from my fellow classmates.
Instead, no one said anything.
Now, this could very well be the result of complete disinterest in the proceedings. After all, only three of us out of around a hundred auditioned.
But, I took it as something else. I took it as a sign that this is what I should do. No one gave me a hard time because – almost – no one had the guts to get up and do what I had just failed doing.
Even if I failed, I was doing something others were neither inclined or able to do.
Of course, I couldn’t quite elucidate all of this at that moment. And I especially couldn’t discern the strain of Dadaism in my performance that may have made it brilliant had it been on purpose.
But I do know that I was not dissuaded from pursuing a career on stage, and more broadly, in the creative arts.
That’s who I am. That’s why I’m where I am today.
And if you’re seeing me read this live, then I’ve just shown you who I am by means of turning an assignment into a performance.
Leave a Reply