Saturday, November 19, 2011

Acting From a Place of Truth

Remember that little bit about playing Cinderella? While all our other crazy adventures were happening,  I was also rehearsing my butt off 5 nights a week! Our community theater's production of Rogers and Hammerstein's "Cinderella" went up in August. I love taking part in community theater, especially in summer when spirits and energy are high. You might remember the down feeling I had after "Annie" last summer, but I had very little sense of loss when this show was over, not because it was a negative experience, but because I wasn't using theater as a diversion from reality this time around. I was in a much better place in my life, a place where I could give much more, and consequently I took away much more. Not only did I have my ever-thickening pregnant belly to nurture, but I gained wonderful new friendships and a healthy boost to my number of piano and voice students. Plus, who doesn't like to dress like a princess and sing and dance across the stage? :)

 It isn't always easy to explain why I love performing so much, especially at this little old theater. You rehearse to ungodly hours of the night (I sometimes didn't get to see Hans, because as soon as he came home from work I had to leave for rehearsal, and when I came home from rehearsal he was fast asleep in bed). You deal with the oldness of the building - broken air conditioning in the middle of July, dust, feathers and bird droppings (and sometimes whole birds) are constantly falling from the rafters and invading your senses. The water gets shut off and you have to go hours without a bathroom during performances. Our tiny backstage area is always ripe with drama - the kind that doesn't entertain or make anyone feel good. Oh, and did I mention the being pregnant while performing part?

Many think that theater is a self-centered hobby. That we like it because we like the attention. That's true. But I wouldn't dismiss it as anything less than a meaningful and worthwhile art form that enriches the souls of both the actors and the audience. I don't have many opportunities to step in someone else's shoes, or truly sympathize with an infamous character in literature. In fact, I always thought Cinderella was kind of a drag. This show allowed me to not only find worth in this short fairy tale, but to inject it with the spunk I'd always felt was missing!

And then there are the people. The "community" in "Community Theater." People from all walks of life - small business owners, insurance agents, district attorney assistants, physical therapists, teachers, stay at home moms - somehow manage to come together in this musty old theater and share their love for music and acting, and breathe life into their characters in ways I hadn't thought of. They are a joy to watch, and a pleasure to know. I treasure these people like my own family, and every show I'm involved in expands the family a little more.

And isn't that what community is all about, anyway? It invites new people to play a role in our lives - allowing them to influence us, love us, and remind us that our separateness is a lie. The truth is not that we all long to be connected, but that we already are.

Photo credits: Nick Schale Photography


DonnaE said...

Speaking from 34 years of being with this group, I second everything Susie has said! When I needed it most, it lifted me. When I wanted it most, it gave to me. It nurtured every single, God-given gift I had, and gave me more. I am so thankful for every member of my community theatre family. Bless you all.

Suzie said...

Thank you, Donna! You are wonderful!

Samantha said...

Ah you are only enhancing me missing theatre!

Suzie said...

I know, right?!