Sunday, January 18, 2009
three left feet
I've metioned several times lately that I'm involved in a show, so here it is, The Theater Post.
My love for the theater began when I was in the second grade. That's when I wrote, produced, directed and starred in my first play. I can't remember the name of it, but I do recall that it featured the Easter Bunny and a serious dilemna: the price of eggs had risen to $2 a dozen, and EB and friend Peter were in big trouble. (FYI, back in 1972, the price of twelve eggs was only 53 cents, so this was dramatic.)
In the sixth grade I co-wrote, produced and directed, with my good friend Corrine Meadows, the classic production "Famous Americans of Our Nation's Past." It was 1976 after all, so a bicentenial tribute was in order. It was historically inaccurate (we had President Jefferson telling Lewis and Clark to take their teddy bears with them) but it was fun. I was hooked.
I didn't hit the stage again until high school, when I landed the role of Aunt Eller in Oklahoma!. It was a challenging role, but I was well-suited to it, even though I (of course) wanted the role of the cute, flitatious Ado Annie, the gal who couldn't say no. (What 16 year old girl in her right mind would choose the role of an old lady rather than a fun chick who loved the boys?)
Our director, like all of his kind, was evil, and I'm not exaggerating. He expected a flawless performance from a bunch of kids, and amazingly, he almost got it. It was a tramatic, exhilarating, exhausting, invigorating experience. I hated the director but loved what he got from me.
It took many years for me to return to the stage, but when my eldest daughter expressed an interest in the theater we got involved in our local community group. Now I'm on the board, have done costumes and performed in musicals, dramas and comedies. Our current production involves tap dancing.
As "Maxine" in Stepping Out I'm a 40-something gal who used to dance quite well. Now I'm in a tap class once a week, running a boutique and raising a step-son.
It's the hardest show I've ever been a part of, and that's not because I've never tapped danced before. (Although that's true, too.) All productions have their share of backstage drama, and this one is no exception. In fact, I keep thinking that if the audience knew what we've been doing at rehearsals, they'd want to buy tickets.
I find that every show I'm involved in brings with it a unique lesson. I learn about people; I learn about myself. This show, of course, is no exception. Not everything I've discovered has been positive, particularly about myself.
I feel like I'm dancing with not two, but three left feet. Oh, I've managed to learn how to tap dance quite well, actually, it's not that. It's just that I've found I'm unable to let go, to let others manage details, to not take charge. It's much more complicated than I'm letting on, and I'll spare you the details. But I'll say this: it's been a rough time. But am I regretting it? Never.
From the time I painted on a pink lipstick nose back when I was seven, I've loved the theater. I love the excitement, the wonder, the challenge. I love being myself and being someone quite different. I've loved and hated scripts, questioned directors and been in awe of them. There is nothing quite like that moment before an entrance is made...nothing quite like standing backstage, in the black, straining for a cue, hitting it spot on, feeling the lights on your face, getting the line just right, your heart beating so hard you feel it might burst. There's nothing like opening night, the jitters, the fear, the adrenelin; there's nothing like closing night, either, knowing that the art you've worked so hard to create will soon be just an echo on an empty stage.
There's nothing like a curtain call. There's nothing like applause.
So for the next few days I'll endure tech week, and on Friday I'll stand backstage and wonder why in the world I'm doing this. And then I'll remember how I love it, and how I really believe that there is value in sharing our talents through the theater.
Good theater can inspire, enlighten and educate, as well as entertain. I'm not sure if this show will do any of those things, but I know one thing. I'm going to enjoy myself, and I'm going to do it, because I can. For now, I think that's reason enough.
If you live in my neighborhood and want an entertaining, cheap night out, check out our site. (We are also doing a fund-raiser for our local crisis pregancy center, The Lennon Center, at all performances. Pretty cool, huh?)