Oh theatre. It is a dark and cruel mistress. All this week has been a giant whirlwind of scrambling chaos to get a show ready for performance. With most theatrical shows it is months of rehearsal cobbled together to make the near perfect performance. However the game I play does the reverse of that. The writer’s of our sketch comedy show slam out a series of scenes and we have to make something magical happen in a week. It’s agonizingly euphoric.
I was young when theater roped me in. I wanted to perform since I could remember. I wanted to be center stage spouting off lines and emoting a range of feelings. My favorite past time was learning the scenes from movies and recreating them line for line, trying to match their facial expressions and movements. It really came naturally to me.
The whole notion of my want of performing was weird seeing as how I was a VERY shy kid. I was terrified to talk to people and typically chose to hide in my room than be in front of a group of people. However as time went on I realized that it was my fear of being in a crowd as myself that drove me into solace. That and I’m a straight up introvert.
The first play I ever auditioned for I never actually got around to trying out. Instead I showed up, saw it was improvesque and I booked. I wasn’t even sure I could read lines, let alone make up my own on the spot. So I left. I swore to myself that I would try out in the spring.
True to my word, I showed up and read over the lines, and overcome with panic and terror, I tried to once again slip out the back, but halfway down the hallway my drama teacher, Ms. Henry, popped her head into the hallway and shouted, “Joshua, get back here.”
Her shriek was like the voice of some derange god and I obeyed rather than risk a smote. I auditioned for the first time ever and got a role playing a man in mental ward that was convinced he was horrifically disfigured. Thanks to that wonderful woman refusing to let me run, I found myself in theatre. And I also discovered a dark side of myself.
I let my abilities go to my head and I turned into a major dick.
It was common knowledge among the drama kids that the seniors were always given the lead roles and I expected that the role of Mr. Hill of Music Man would be mine for the taking. In that mindset I did not show up for a single pre-rehearsal and booked it after every school day. I didn’t put in the time. So as punishment for my arrogance, my teacher gave me the mayor instead. I was furious. The role I wanted went to a junior boy and one of my former nemeses. (I have had many. I’m like a character in a soap opera.)
Because of resentment and lack of interest, I was fired/quit from the spring performance of my senior year. That failure and disappointment taught me a valuable lesson, don’t get cocky.
So as I prepare to go on stage I have to remind myself I may be good and I may not. But whichever, don’t let it go to my head.