In the Dressing Room

I have to admit, I have been struggling to put together these blog posts. It’s not that I have any lack of material…there are endless photographs to be inspired by and countless versions of her life events. It’s not a lack of interest on my part either, in fact, it seems that Marilyn Monroe unlocks all kinds of ideas in me and I am capable of writing pages and pages. I now have at least twenty-five pages of musings inspired by my research into her life. No, it seems it is something else that is making this project challenging. Tonight as I was wondering about this, it came to me: I am afraid to come out of the dressing room.

It seems that Marilyn was often terrified by being in front of the camera. Because of this she would stay in her dressing room for hours, keeping everyone waiting. Often there were tears and then medication was needed. Directors would declare that they’d had enough and rap on her door, assuming the role of disciplinarian. Eventually she would emerge and sometimes she would light everything up like the sun, and sometimes she would need take after take after take, forgetting her lines and becoming increasingly agitated.

It is so hard to do anything when we need to “get it right”. We can put enormous pressure on ourselves, or like Marilyn we can also be pressured by those around us, a whole cast and crew and beyond that the industry that is Hollywood. In my case, I am creating my own work here and am allowed to be the boss, yet I still find myself hiding in the dressing room. Thinking if I just take more time, I might get it right. Maybe it is the old question of success and failure. I’ve heard it said that success and failure are not personal, they are simply the world’s response to actions we take. I’ve also heard that in order to succeed we need to fail more often. More actions result in more success and more failure, neither of which can truly be experienced from the dressing room.

Then there is this inspiration from Zen Buddhist Joan Halifax:

“Please discover that transparency is the very foundation of fearlessness, and realize transparency in all three dimensions. First, become transparent to yourself through personal inquiry. Your meditation and sense of deep interior reveal your mind and all that it holds. Then, make the world transparent to you. See into the nature of reality, into the hearts of others, into the heart of the world. And finally, become transparent to others. Learn to be open, vulnerable and undefended in your relationships. Realizing these three transparencies requires all of us to plunge into the unknown and the unknowable of our own heart and mind and to open our heart to the world.”

4 thoughts on “In the Dressing Room

  1. Kudos to you for exploring this! I struggled with performance anxiety for a long time and also didn’t want to leave my proverbial dressing room. Patsy Rodenberg told me, “Nerves are a shared experience.” But we rarely talk about it, or write about it so it can feel like a solitary experience. It must have been so hard for Norma to become Marylin. So many expectations… It is like an amplified version the process of what we do as actors because she had to become the same character over and over and nobody wanted her to play another character or archetype.. It reminds me that we all struggle in deep and profound ways. Everyone has an obstacle course to overcome and all movement is progress and an accomplishment. Thanks for letting us in on your journey and process!


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