August 7, 2013

All the World's a Stage...

MC and I recently took a day trip to Oklahoma to see one of my friends perform in a stage production of "Les Miserables". We are both fans of theater and especially musicals and I can't even remember the last play I saw. I've never seen "Les Mis" before (not even the movie version) and had to brush up on the storyline on the way but we so enjoyed it. My friend had the lead role as Jean Valjean and he was fantastic. But my favorite was Eponine. Not only was the actress' voice gorgeous, but I fell in love with her character. Then again, I'm a sucker for unrequited love.

I left the theater singing "Master of the House" and looking forward to both reading the book and watching the Hugh Jackman version. As I left, I also realized how much I missed theater.

When I was in high school, I fell in love with drama class and I decided that I was going to be an actress when I grew up. I was in the school plays and did dessert theater. I love the whole process of putting on a play. I love the rehearsals, the stage production, the costume and makeup. I love bonding with the cast members and memorizing lines and memorizing everyone else's lines. I love those moments that you get so into working a scene that you forget you are performing a work of fiction and you become that character, that moment when the scene calls for tears and they come naturally because you are so imbued with your character's spirit that you actually feel the pain yourself.

But nothing beats performance night. That night when you can't yell "Cut!" in the middle of scene because it
isn't working and you just have to find a way to work around the flub or misstep. I love the adrenaline rush from performing in front of an audience and hearing their reaction whether it's a collective gasp, laugh or sniffle. I love the magic that happens backstage where everyone is scrambling around to do their job and do it silently and without being seen in the wings. I love the frantic costume and set changes between scenes. I love sitting backstage awaiting my entrance and mouthing along with all the other actors' lines. I love peeking out from behind the curtains and seeing an enraptured crowd.

Theater is magic and I miss being a magician's assistant.

When I watch a movie, I tend to watch it through a producer's lens. I examine the set decorations, the blocking, the editing, the soundtrack, the makeup and the costumes. Oh, how I love the costumes. If I couldn't be an actor in a movie I would love to be involved in costuming. I enjoy watching the "making of" extras on DVDs as much as I enjoy watching the movie.

It's the closest I can get to the magic without being on a stage myself.

I didn't end up pursuing my dream of acting (as you've probably guessed). Although I did audition several times for community theater when I was younger, I haven't gone back. I've heard that only 1% of professional actors actually get paid but that wasn't what deterred me. What finally convinced me that I wasn't cut out for Hollywood, Broadway or a career in the local theater was the fact that I don't have tough skin. You see, I'm not tall, slender or beautiful. My dancing and singing skills are questionable. I would be categorized as a character actor, and I'm perfectly fine with that. My problem is that for every one job you get as a actor, you've had to go through 100 auditions to get there. That means hearing you're too fat, too short, not pretty enough, or just "not what we're looking for" 100 times. Maybe I would've developed that Teflon-like outer shell eventually but I was honest enough with myself to admit that my self-esteem couldn't handle all those hits.

So instead I live vicariously through others, whether I know them or not. I enjoy the time and effort and creativity that it took to bring their performance to either the movie stage or the theater stage. I keep up with behind the scenes happenings and updates of upcoming movies. I go to a play and dissect the props and choreography and lighting. And I thoroughly enjoy every minute of it.

I may never be on stage again but I will always love the theater.


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