This spring/summer will be the first time in over 6 years that I am not on stage in a production. It’s a strange feeling.
On one hand, I am very much looking forward to being able to appreciate these days with more light and sun (please, God!!) outside instead of a darkened theatre.
I don’t have to worry about getting injured which hopefully means more time out dancing which is good for body and soul. I won’t have to miss family functions or time with friends because of rehearsals.
On the other, I feel somewhat dispossessed.
The theatre is often described as unpredictable and that’s true in some sense. Business wise, it is a roller coaster. One is subject to so many variables and the work itself is hardly easy. Yet, what I like most about doing a show is that for roughly two hours, I know exactly where to be, exactly what to do, when to do it, and what to say. I can trust that I will be with the same people who will also do their part, that we are all working towards a defined goal, together.
We don’t get that in life. While I believe there is a Director, He is one who respects His actors’ freedom a great deal. There is no stage manager to make sure I am on time for work or a props person to ensure that I really do put my keys back at the same place each time.
There is no set script, and any number of actors can come or go from the scene at any time. Given the uncertainty of life, the same show every night for several weeks is, for me, a great comfort. There is always variety and spontaneity – that is the nature of live performance – but within the safe boundaries of a choreographed story.
While I do not regret the decision I made – to no longer sing for free, or at least, very rarely – it’s uncomfortable to tell people I don’t have any performances coming up (other than private gigs). It’s sad to not have the routine performing, as well as the discipline and mindset performing puts me into. I’m usually in better shape, in a better overall mood (even if exhausted), when in a show. I laugh more, drink more water, sleep more deeply. And I get a chance to love a particular group of people in a specific focused way for an all too short amount of time. Sometimes I think I appreciate the backstage moments more than those where I sing.
Break legs this season, my dear friends. Write it all down and put the applause in your pocket and take it out and listen to it later on when you have the blues. But most of all, be present. The phone can wait: these moments are unique.