May 2011

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Ann Imig For much of her life, Ann Imig has made a career out of self- expression. Once a young girl who dreamed of stardom on a big stage, today she’s a mother of two young boys and a stay-at-home humorist and blogger. At 36, she is also the creator and national director of “Listen to Your Mother,” a live spoken-word show featuring local women writers which, after just one year, has spread to four other cities nationwide. Though the bright lights of Broadway are now a distant memory of a youthful dream, Imig has found plenty of other ways to light up her life. Dear Ann Krinsky, age 20 and likely rehearsing a monologue in the Vilas Hall basement, How are you Ann Krinsky? Yes, the UW Theater Department smells exactly the same 16 years later—of burnt microwave popcorn, bare feet and creative desperation. Nice sus- pender pants, by the way. Very The Limited-does-Annie Hall. I see you working diligently on your audition monologue for “The Fantasticks.” Spoiler — alert: You get the part! In fact, you play so many ingénues, we could cast a “1994-1997 Krin- sky Princesses on Ice.” But know now that your life’s most meaningful roles will require no audition or casting call. In f ive years you will be a wife. A redheaded non-Jew, not-yet-Democrat, Ben-the-drum- mer currently resides in a Colorado basement. Ann Krinsky, you look a bit wan. But don’t worry. He’s not ready for you either. Meanwhile, your roommates in the apartment on West Washington Avenue and the rest of the girls from your grade school group will maintain your friendship over decades. Together you’ll traverse the quarter-century-freak out, career purgatory, pregnancies lost, new babies, no sleep, sick parents, marriage, graduate school, divorce and bad hair styles. You form a Greek chorus of sorts, calming the Medea-of-the week from slaying her young with “Turn on PBS Kids, I’ll be right over with a bottle of red.” I realize this might not resonate with you right now—as your biggest priority is perfect- ing your Cockney dialect—but these women become a constant in your life. They serve as your compass as you strive to put a label on who you are. How I wish you could know now how unimportant that is compared to who you’re with. You will spend years questioning yourself and your actress-turned-sales executive- turned-social-worker-slash-mother-turned-blogger-slash-writer-path. Yes, I said sales executive. Am I scaring the suspenders off of you? Have faith. These skills you are learning right now will bring you far—taking direction, improvisation and especially the use of eye shadow to make your nose appear smaller. If I just killed your theater career dreams, don’t cry. Use this devastation in Shakespeare class. You need it. Your childhood fared too comfortably for this serious acting business. Save those tears for ad sales. Let me take your shoulders and look you in the eye, and after we play a round of mime “mirrors” I will say, yes Ann Krinsky, age 20, you have talent. You have a lovely singing voice and stage personality, but the friendships you began in childhood, and that you keep rehearsing, become some of your most beautiful arias, highest hitch-kicks and most moving soliloquies. You never win a Tony, but you win an Erin, a Maria, a Megan—in fact, too many beloved friends to list. Competing for and winning leading lady feels so important to you right now, but the light these women bring to your life endures much longer than any spotlight. Simply, your friendships nudge you toward authentic Ann, and away from acting Ann. This does not mean you never f ind yourself on the stage again, only that you need not f ind a stage to f ind yourself. Well, I’ve got to go pick up your future children at school, and you’ve got to get back to your vocal glides. Some quick advice: Take full advantage of your roommates’ wardrobes because you will never live with such an array of cute clothing again. Also, dance the gold unitard off of your role in “A Chorus Line.” Soon you’ll move to Chicago and go to your f irst professional musical theater dance audition, after which you will change your résumé from “actor/singer/dancer” to “actor/singer/moves well” and ultimately to “actor/singer/ claps.” Fondly, Ann Imig, age 36 May 2011 51

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