"…I’m an actor, which means that I have an insatiable need…"


flash fiction

Tiffany Tang

portraitA native Californian, Tiffany knew she wanted to be a writer when she found herself happily volunteering to diagram sentences in her junior high English class. Deciding then, at 13, that she would be an English major in college, she accomplished her goal at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Her literary studies also took her to England for a year abroad, where she earned a diploma in English and American Literature. Detouring for a bit after graduation to pursue other artistic endeavors, Tiffany received an MFA from the Actors Studio Drama School in New York, but her love of writing never left her. While acting, she has also worked as a newspaper journalist, a speechwriter, and a business writing teacher. She continues to write personal essays, rehearsal blogs, plays, and screenplays, and has recently begun to dabble in the world of fiction.

Stars to Guide Me

The problem is that I’m an actor which means that I have an insatiable need to feel like I’m a part of something.

Henry Mancini. Harriet Nelson. Kermit the Frog.

I’m having a crisis of faith. I feel my church has let me down. I won’t go into detail but there was an incident involving me dramatically storming out in the middle of a sermon on how the Laws of Moses should still dictate who should and should not get married. It means I probably won’t be returning for a while.

I happen to be having this crisis of faith on Hollywood Boulevard because, right now, I’m in a play. Every night, I walk past the same pink sidewalk stars on my way from the Kodak Theatre parking garage to the entrance of the Stella Adler Theater a block away.

Vivien Leigh. Sean Diddy Combs. Britney Spears.

And as I walk tonight, I am wondering where, in fact, is my church? Is it really the four walls that house a weekly ritual? Or is it something … different, more? Now that I am “ritual-less,” I wonder - what was it that brought me back week after week?

It was more than just the spiritual teaching. It was also the simple comfort I felt when participating in the weekly service. It was one place I could go where I knew what to expect. I knew the words to the songs, I knew how to respond, when to stand and when to kneel. This knowing was made me feel safe and proud. But does that qualify as “church”? As “faith”?

Burt Lancaster. Joanne Woodward. Elvis Presley.

The problem is that I’m an actor which means that I have an insatiable need to feel like I’m a part of something. Finishing a rehearsal is the only time I ever feel like I’ve accomplished anything worthwhile. And tonight, I am in this play. It’s a small role. It’s the smallest role imaginable actually: I am onstage for one scene and I have no lines. But I do it because I have faith that my moment on stage - no matter how brief - matters. It tells a story. For a short space of time, it makes me part of something bigger than I am.

I stop on Lee Strasburg. Could I possibly be describing a kind of church? If I share common beliefs with others and we gather, not only to honor them, but to create something new out of our collective experience, are we, in essence, finding God?

A friend of mine tells me that I should just ask God to show me the answer and be patient and listen. So, right there on top of Lee Strasburg, I ask: Show me my church.

I wait. I am patient. I keep walking.

Milton Berle. Stella Adler. Groucho Marx.

Across the street, the Scientology building looms large in neon lights. Down the block a little farther, religious zealots of an indiscernible faith sing jovially and hand out pamphlets. Behind me, a large Methodist church often used for open casting calls sits sternly against the Hollywood Hills.

Not sure where to put my faith, but choosing the only four walls I trust today, I push past the sidewalk smokers crowded around a tacky Hollywood gift shop and enter the theater.

Editor: LinckeN@WLAC.edu | West Los Angeles College | 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City CA 90230 | www.wlac.edu
Production Mngr: Michelle Long-Coffee | Web Design: Clarissa Castellanos