Friday, November 20, 2009

To Be Or Not To Be

i can remember as a child, being told by my mother, that i could fulfill my father's dream of being an actor and making it big in hollywood. when looking back, i wonder if it was her nice way of saying that i was drama queen. my father was a handsome man and was built like a boxer. he had all the makings of being a matinee idol. i used to think that he looked like a young spencer tracy. my father loved to croon and he had a really nice voice. my parents used to dance in the living room to lawrence welk and arthur murry. at their 50th wedding anniversary party in zefat, although they were well into their 80's, they glided gracefully, around the restaurant floor. even with my father's dememtia, he didn't miss a beat. i was always in school plays as a member of the dance troupe or chorus. i can't remember if i really liked to perform or not. mom said that we were always putting on shows and that supposedly, i used to sing "true love" for my tante rosie and other various family members. i don't remember. i had a speech impediment as a young child and struggled with a lisp until the age of 13. i still remember my first experience with stage freight. i was the salutatorian of my 8th grade graduation class of p.s. 238. i had the honor of delivering the opening speech of the ceremony. .although it was over 45 years ago, i can still feel the sheer panic. i can feel myself shuffling on stage. i can taste the nausea, and feel the throbbing in my head. i can also, feel the beads of sweat forming on my forehead. i didn't know at the time, that what i was experiencing, was, in fact, stage freight. after that day i stuck to being in the background. dancing and singing with a group was just right for me. no solos for zelda, please! when i was in high school, i got involved in making costumes for our annual sing programs. i was the costume chairman for three years. in my junior year, we beat out the seniors, thanks to my creations. i still have the small plaque hanging in my bedroom, today. after the sing, i was sure about how to fulfill the gleich family's dream of making it big in hollywood. i decided to become, an oscar winning, costume designer, like edith head. but sadly, i didn't persue the 'dream'. nor did i take up fashion design in college. i gave up on the family dream to persue zelda's dream of becoming a teacher. i did take an acting course in college because i had an enormous crush on my speech teacher, howie. i got an A in speech and decided to follow howie. howie was jewish and into kabbalah. i had never heard of it, myself. the acting class turned out to be a gym class. all we did was stretch and do yoga poses. howie believed that an actor needed stage presence more than he needed dialogue. at the time, i was quite hefty, and exercize left me cold. but i was in love with howie, so i stuck it out. i also took a karate class in college, and got an A. i don't remember what grade i got from howie. alas, we went our seperate ways, because howie didn't believe that i had the makings of a great actress or gymnasist, for that matter. eventually, i quit college and gave up on my dream of becoming an educator. my dream turned into my nightmare after i had a case of stage freight in the kindergarten. i was actually, afraid of standing in front of little kids and performing. so, that was the end of my acting for the next few decades. in my late forties, a good friend started to write comedic plays for religious women. she did different twists on the stories of purim and chanukah and peace in the middle east. she even put a jewish spin on the period piece, 'pride and prejudice'. i had been a volunteer for other women's productions, setting up chairs and helping the actresses with their lines. i was invited to join several of the casts but i always refused because of my stage freight. at first, i supplied the costume and props. later on, i set up the refreshments and even baked my own healthy cookies and cakes. i gradually made it to become the mistress of ceremony. i was actually, able to get up in front of ladies and be the m.c. and i was funny, too! i can't remember the first time that i actually took a part, but it must have been out of a sense of obligation. someone must have left town or taken ill or had a baby. i stepped in and joined the cast, very late in the game. i happen to be a quick study and i can memorize lines, easily. i have never really, enjoyed acting and i have never seen it as my creative outlet. i do it for the charity. we try to raise money for different causes. and we give the righteous women of zefat, a night out. i have been cast as zeresh, the wife of the evil, haman on a few occassions. i played it as a joan collins wannabe. i like to play 'witchy' women. it's fun! and i am not afraid of being type casted. i was given the lead role as a ditsy school teacher a few years ago in a chanukah show. my father was quite ill and i didn't want to leave him. i did the show for him. i literally went into a 'trance' like state for two hours until the show ended. i don't really remember being there. i haven't performed in years. i did do a purim sketch with my friend, a couple of years ago. this past purim, i created, 'living' theatre here in zefat. i dressed up as a sephardi beggar lady and actually collected some money from people on the street, which i gave back to charity. i was pretty 'authentic' in my role and i scared the daylights out of my friend's sister, when i entered the house and sat down at the dining room table to eat. oh, to be or not to be!


  1. I always enjoyed your acting skills.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story. I'm sure you are much better off by NOT having gone to Hollywood!