A couple months ago I wrote about the idea of returning to the stage, something I had been hiding from for approximately 5 years. Although I made the decision with some excitement, I found myself incredibly trepidatious throughout the process. Not only was I now aware of how much I disliked my own acting, after seeing myself on the screen from my attempts at film-making, but I’ve become much more of a hermit over the years and was uncertain of my abilities to interact socially.
I wish I could say that my concerns regarding those two items were quickly assuaged. . . The baseless confidence of my youth is far behind me, but that doesn’t mean that returning to the stage wasn’t a good experience. In fact, it was a great one. My acting abilities are still questionable at best, but sitting alone on the stage in the dark, awaiting the lights to come on me so I can begin the opening number by my lonesome meant that I had to ignore that knowledge and just belt out what I could. It was somewhat freeing, knowing that I had to face my fears and just allow whatever came out to happen.
And then, of course, there’s the whole social aspect. I was a ton more busy during this show that I had expected to be, due to some casting troubles and some ill-founded confidence placed on me by the director, so I didn’t really have the much time during the rehearsal period to interact with my cast-mates. Once we actually reached the performance dates, which involved plenty of time waiting backstage for the audience to take their seats and whatnot, I was so exhausted, and in danger of losing my voice, that I many times found myself hiding in a corner to keep from having to talk much. The socially awkward part of myself was completely cool with that as well, as I still wasn’t really certain how I fit in with these talented individuals.
That’s not to say I didn’t interact with them, and that’s not to say I didn’t greatly enjoy interacting with them when I did. . . I just never really knew how to do so without feeling. . . awkward.
Amusingly enough, the show we were performing, HONK!, deals with basically this exact same issue.
These folks that I found so incredibly gifted and personable, were just so hard for me to open up to. Until, of course, a few drinks were introduced. Let’s just say that I became much less inhibited during the cast party. . . and I fear for what my new friends found out about me that night.
Anyways. . . my return to the stage may not have entailed great thralls of people throwing flowers at my feet (nor should it have), but although I found myself facing these fears on a daily basis, I also found myself enjoying myself more than I could have imagined. There was a sense of returning home as I walked down the aisles of The State Theatre in preparation of my first performance. Wonderful memories of days long gone flooded my mind as I sat in the green room resting my eyes and voice for each performance. And although most of the cast were people I had never worked with before, it felt comfortable being on stage with them, as though I had been on stage with them all many times before.
I missed having my nights with my family at home, but returning to my past reminded me of how much I actually missed the excitement and flurry of activity that is involved in putting on a musical. I had forgotten the emotions and energy of the stage, the flat-out nakedness that occurs as you sit up there and forget your next line. . . or attempt to help your fellow cast member get through their’s. I moved into writing because I felt it allowed me the opportunity to get creative at it’s most detailed level, creating worlds and people and dialogue from thin air. But being under those lights, no matter how much you’ve rehearsed, that’s where creativity truly thrives. Each movement of the body, each inflection of a word, every crescendo of a note requires the actor to consider a plethora of options on how to deliver them, and the needs of each audience is very different, even if the changes the actor makes is subtle.
It may be a while before I’m able to return to the stage, but I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do so again, even if it meant acquiring my first-ever stage injury (still holding off on getting it checked out by a professional. . . ) and directly dealing with two fears I’ve been hiding from for several years. It also meant meeting a great group of incredibly talented people, as well as reuniting with a few folks whose talent I had previously known. And, giving me a fresh look at the stage from older eyes. . .
But. . . I’ve gotta get back to writing, so, yeah, enough reflecting.
Have a good one!