Monday, January 22, 2018

Pondering High Maintenance and Low Maintenance

My favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally. Among the many conversations in that movie that make me laugh a bit self-consciously is the conversation where Harry is explaining high maintenance and low maintenance women to Sally. He concludes by telling her she's "the worst kind. You're high maintenance, but you think you're low maintenance." She responds by telling him she just wants things the way she wants them.

Yep. Totally agree.

I've spent the last month and a half rehearsing and performing Neil Simon's Plaza Suite. It's been a wonderful experience, but it's also gotten me thinking about high maintenance and low maintenance.

When it comes to my performance, I'm pretty high maintenance. I want my lines, my expressions and my embodiment of the character to be just right. A missed or misspoken line or even just the sense that I'm not bringing my A game to the performance bugs me. A lot.

Over time, I've learned how to keep moving, to get past the momentary blips in the interest of making the overall performance as good as it can be. I still don't like imperfect lines and B+ performances, but I recognize that they're a fact of life and that letting them get to me is counterproductive.

While none of this is news to me, the fact that I have a low maintenance side did come as a surprise. Having found the things I love to do in life, I'm impatient with almost anything that interrupts time doing those things. I've long known that cooking and household responsibilities fell into that "in the way" category but, until I did this show, I didn't quite realize how low maintenance I am when it comes to my "beauty routine," such as it is.

Set in 1968, this play required a look that aligned with its times. A costume did part of the work, but hair (a wig, in my case) and makeup completed the look. This meant spending a fair amount of time in a chair being transformed from Lisa Hess to Karen Nash -- more time than I spent getting ready for my own wedding, in fact. Then again, in that case, I was only going from Lisa Lawmaster to Lisa Hess.

Maureen Stapleton as Karen Nash
movieclips via YouTube
Most of the women loved the makeup, especially the false eyelashes. I, on the other hand, was happier to peel them off than put them on. It's not that I don't care how I look; it's just that the combined effects of motherhood, allergies and impatience have pared my makeup routine down to five steps that can be completed in less than five minutes. Taking ten times that long to get ready was hard for me to reconcile. Instead of feeling pampered, I felt imprisoned, and more than a little grouchy.

Over the past two weeks, I've learned to live with it, accepting what I can't change (the wig, which looks a lot like the photo above) and changing what I can (some of the makeup). I've loved playing Karen and, as with every other role I've played, she's become a part of me. A little bit of her will stick with me for a long time to come.

But her false eyelashes?

Too high maintenance for me.

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