Today I got word that I was on my way to achieving my lifelong dream of performing in a Shakespeare play. As I was getting ready for work this morning, I picked up my phone and noticed I had a message from last night. It was the director calling to cast me as Toby Belch, the drunken, free-loading uncle from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.

Let me go back and bring you up-to-date on the story so far. About three weeks or so ago, I had a dream. In this dream, I was at the Spotlight Theater (where I am a regular performer in The Drunkard) talking to my fellow actors. They were all talking about new shows they were going to be in. I awoke feeling disappointed that I had no show to be in and that I had little prospect for finding one. I teach nights during the school year, and my lack of free evenings prevents me from attending rehearsals, and thus there are few shows in which I can perform. My evenings are usually free in the summers, but it seems most community theater seasons have ended, and they are running acting camps. However, this summer would be different.

One of my facebook friends and former cast-mate from Sherlock Holmes noted that he would be trying out for a part in Theatre Tulsa’s upcoming Twelfth Night. I followed his link and found information about the show. Since the semester was ending and I don’t teach evenings in the summer, I saw this as a great opportunity to at least audition for a show.

The audition required a monologue of less than one and a half minutes. Knowing that the role in Twelfth Night that would be the most fun for me to play would be Toby Belch, I looked for a monologue from Falstaff. An acting teacher once told me that Belch was a proto-Falstaff, and I thought this would be a good place to start. I worked hard to memorize the lines. I think I was working hard, but not smart in this aspect. I started very late in putting movement with the lines. I was mostly just reciting them. When I went in for my audition, I felt the performance was sloppy. I skipped words. I spoke too fast. My movements were not clean. I had an out-of-body experience in which I self-critiqued myself the whole way through the performance. In the end, I smiled and thanked the director for the opportunity.

To my surprise (and not to my surprise), I was called back the next day. I was surprised because of how I felt about the previous days performance. I was not surprised because there were very few men at the audition, and I was of the age and size that fit best with Toby Belch. I had told them I would be happy to play the “sea captain,” and would have truly been grateful for that role. At call-backs, I was excited to see that I was given sides for Toby Belch. I had such fun that day reading Belch’s lines. I was even able to figure out a way to get myself to burp that day. This was something I had been trying to learn how to do for two weeks, but which only resulted in me becoming nauseous and on the verge of throwing up. After reading Belch for a couple of hours, I even had the chance to stand in for Malvolio for a few scenes as that actor had left. What a fun scene that was to play!

So here I am now at the beginning of this great adventure. I have decided to blog out my journey to reflect, learn, and share my experiences. You may come along on the ride with me if you like.

My 50 Book Goal

This year I set myself a goal of finishing 50 books. Actually, I have set this goal for myself for quite a number of years. This, however, is the first time I have met this goal. In fact, I actually made it to 51.

To tell the truth, I don’t know that I would have met this goal if it were not for audiobooks. Even at that, I would not have completed so many of them without my iPod and audible.com. They have made it very convenient to carry around audiobooks on my person without bulky CDs or audiotapes. Mostly I listen to them while driving or walking the dog. I try to listen to them as I go to sleep, but I just end up falling asleep and spend more time the next morning trying to find the point where I dozed off.

Here are a few stats about my 50 book goal this year.

Number of Books: 51

Audobooks: 38

Total Hours: 578

Longest Audiobook: Judas Unchained – 41 hours (This was actually part 2 of a 2 part story. The first part was Pandora’s Star which came in at 37 hours.)

Shortest Audiobook: A Christmas Carol – 3 1/2 hours

Actual Books:  13

Total Pages: 3,851

Longest Book: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union – 464 pages

Shortest Book: Sound Advice on Recording and Mixing Vocals – 84 pages

Months I finished the most books: December – 8, March – 7

Months I finished the fewest books: November – 0, February, May, June, August, October – 3 each

Most “Read” Author – Lois McMaster Bujold  – 9 books

Books by Decade :

00s –  23 1/2*

90s – 9

80s – 8

70s – 1

60s – 1

50s – 4

40s – 1

1840s – 1

1810s – 1/2*

*The halves denote the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which started out as a novel in the 1810s and was altered in the 00s.

In my next post, I will attempt to choose the best and worst books of the year.

Merry Christmas

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Boxing Day, or whatever you may be celebrating at this time.

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