I was really sure Elsie Fest was going to be announced on Thursday. Darren was on Colbert. The website was being updated. The date and location were revealed. It was about to happen.
Then they locked down the website. (I’m not going to say the date and location because it’s possible they were not official.)
I went to bed at the usual time because that’s just me. I don’t like staying up late and I’m not going to do it for something as frivolous as a concert announcement, even if it is my favorite concert. I did, however, take a shower before bed so I’d have a bit of extra time in the morning to catch up on the announcement, possibly watch Darren’s interview from Thursday night, and deal with what I expected would be a whole lot of Twitter.
Instead, I woke up at five, checked my text messages, and saw one from my buddy in the Darren Criss Army that said, “Sadly no mention of Elsie on Colbert.” (I’ve since heard that a friend of a friend of a friend was at the live taping and evidently Darren did mention Elsie Fest, but it was edited out of the broadcast. There’s no way to verify that claim, of course, but I do trust my source.)
I got really angry. Really, really angry. I felt hurt. I anticipated a pained reaction on Twitter and felt responsible for soothing those feelings–a responsibility I cannot carry. I felt like loving this concert was the worst decision I had ever made. Part of me wanted to tweet out “I quit.” and just vanish.
Instead, I went with this:
What was once a joy is becoming a burden. I might need to put it down. I’ve got some stuff going on in my life next week, and the week after that is vacation. I’ll be doing some thinking. I might be here or I might not.
— Elsie Cast (@Elsiepod) August 10, 2018
The fact is, I do feel a sense of responsibility to my audience–listeners, readers, and Twitter followers. But that responsibility goes only as far as what I’ve promised. Up until now, I’ve worked hard to be a reliable source of Elsie Fest news, to put out a podcast every two weeks (until my recent announcement that I was reducing that), and to be at major events like Elsie Fest and Broadwaycon as a fan ambassador to prod for Elsie news, to get you fun audio, and to be a friendly face for newbies who wanted to come but were feeling shy about going alone. Those are commitments I made and I take them seriously. So this tweet (and this post) is my notice that I’m re-evaluating my commitment. Over the next two weeks, I commit to nothing, and by that point I’ll let everyone know what to expect.
I started my thinking process, and what it came down to is this. I’m done being jerked around by these people. I don’t feel obligated to go to Elsie Fest at all. I’m going to do what’s fun. I like being a Broadway fan. I like being recognized as a Broadway fan. I like giving things away to strangers. I hate defending the producers of Elsie Fest. I hate not knowing what my fall is going to look like because I’m holding dates “in case.” I hate waiting and waiting to be told something that should have been advertised months ago. I hate standing outside of Elsie Fest watching the chaos going on inside the gates while everything runs late. I hate feeling like I might not get a good spot at the concert because the line at meet & greet is taking so long.
I decided I’d wait and see if Elsie Fest seems enticing enough to go to or not. “If they advertise to me and it looks like fun, I’ll go. If not, I won’t,” I thought. It felt right. It felt good to let them chase me for a change. I felt like I was reclaiming my dignity after feeling like an idiot who cares more about Elsie Fest than its own producers do.
When I got to work, I saw this tweet:
So true, like a friend said it’s an unhealthy relationship where u r the clingy one waiting for his word 🤔
— Marlene TRAN (@MarleneTran) August 10, 2018
It rang so true to me. That’s exactly how I felt. Like Elsie Fest is a guy I’m dating who makes me feel great when I’m with him, but when I’m not, I have no idea if he even thinks about me at all. Remember that book He’s Just Not That Into You? It came out way after I got married, but I saw the author on Oprah and I really took to the idea. I wish someone had told me this theory when I was still dating–it would have saved me a lot of time. The premise is that if a guy doesn’t call you enough (or whatever it is you want him to do), you should move on. If he is that into you, he’ll call more. And if he’s not, you haven’t wasted time. He’s unlikely to change, so if you don’t like him the way he is, you actually don’t like him.
That’s essentially the decision I had already made. I was going to back off and let the Elsie Fest folks come to me. I’m done saving my Saturday nights for Darren Criss. If he invites me to something, and I’m free, and it looks like fun, I’ll go. But otherwise? Screw him. There is cabaret several times a week in New York City. There’s Broadway Princess Party. There’s Marie’s Crisis if I want a sing along, and Broadwaycon for the sense of camaraderie. Not to mention the actual Broadway shows and stage door and collecting Lights of Broadway cards. There’s plenty of ways to enjoy Broadway and cabaret without Elsie Fest.
I feel that sadness that comes after a necessary breakup. I feel a little bit hurt, and a lot bit what-the-fuck-is-wrong-with-them? Why do they keep the date a secret? Why don’t they communicate with fans? Why haven’t they acknowledged my existence for two years, over which time I’ve been the ONLY year-round presence educating the Broadway community about Elsie Fest? Changing these things would be good for them, but they don’t seem to want to change.
But I didn’t this project for them. I did it for you–for all the people who thanked me because they couldn’t find answers to basic questions about Elsie Fest until they happened upon my FAQ. And I did it because it was fun. I made a lot of friends over the past two years. I pushed myself into a space that was uncomfortable for me (I’m naturally shy) and I like being that person–the helpful, friendly person who knows a lot about Broadway–that I play on the podcast. Not that it’s a character. It’s an aspirational version of myself. But I always said that I would do it as long as it was fun, and when it wasn’t fun anymore I’d stop.
I’m stopping some things. As I said in my tweet, I have some obligations over the next two weeks that will make it hard to keep up my former responsibilities anyway, so I’m going to use that time to decide which parts of this “job” I enjoy and want to continue, and which parts I don’t enjoy. I’ll come up with a new shape for my fandom that will allow me to do what I enjoy, keep up with my friends, and be helpful to new fans who want a friendly person to latch onto, without making me feel stressed out. And then I’ll make my plans public and make new commitments that I can stand by.
Thanks to everyone who sent a friendly tweet. I really appreciated it. Some of you are friends I’ve met IRL and who I communicate with often. You know what you mean to me already. Others are followers who let me know I mean something to them, and it meant a lot to know that you’re out there. I promise I’m not going away completely. I’ll probably even be around this week (though not reliably, as I said). Next week, I’m hoping to go completely offline for the very good reason that I’ll be on vacation with my family.
And then I’ll let you know.
Thanks for listening, make more art, and I’ll be back in two weeks,
PS: In the mean time, if/when there is Elsie news, this blog will be kept up.