This Sunday launches production week. Another openin’, another show. This one has been kind of funky from the start – the death of my student in September, all sorts of interpersonal adult drama, Swine Flu – it’s been pretty wack, actually. But Sunday is what we call Super Sunday, and we’ll all show up in our pajamas and rehearse for eight hours. Parents put out an amazing spread of food – bagels, fruit, tons of water, candy, perfect Buffalo Chicken subs about halfway through the day, and by the time I get home I’ll need seven aspirin and a Fauxmopolitan in a bucket. With a straw.
I want to slap myself for my childhood beliefs that Production Week is sooooo much harder on the actors than everyone else. Yes, it’s tough on them, especially with their homework and everything. But I swear, I will eat, sleep and breathe every single moment of this play from now until I finally get to Pajama Done Day. I will wake up in the middle of the night, repeatedly, and sit upright in my bed to declare to the cat and my startled husband that Colin really needs to be wearing a hat in the opening scene and I still haven’t hung the curtains on the apartment window and I forgot the light board op’s name in the program and do I have enough ushers for Friday night? I will burst into tears most days in my car as I haul ass up route 3 after my day in 6th grade, and I will call my mom at 7:30 every morning to tell her what a disaster it is so she can say, “You always say that, and it always turns out great.” (She’s usually right. Usually.) I will drink way too much coffee and will most likely find myself in the 24-hour Walmart at least once in the middle of the night to buy bobby pins and safety pins and last minute props – usually some sort of ribbon or faux flowers.
My friends will be supportive and amazing, and Andrea will give me some kind of rah-rah-you-can-do-it card, and Patrick will listen as I bitch and remind me about Christmas and put the girls to bed alone every night and come down and get me when I fall asleep on the couch in front of the TV, which will be the only way I’ll be able to calm my brain enough to fall asleep.
I wish I could find a way to do this differently. I wish there were some magical Non-Stress formula that would make me not care as much, or not worry as much, or be able to get more done in advance so it doesn’t all pile up at the end…but I haven’t found it yet. If I think too much before this week about the amount of energy I will need each day to cheer on my leads and tighten up the set changes and keep track of everyone’s schedules and not let the musical director make me cry…well, it makes me not want to get up in the morning. I just have to take it one day at a time, one moment at a time, and be grateful to my wonderful hard-working staff and the kids who are being as brave as kids can ever be and my friends and family for being so helpful and so gentle with me.
My high school director – my relationship with whom is blog-worthy at least and therapy-inducing at most – used to put things in the program like, “I love you, daughters! Don’t worry. Daddy will be FINALLY be home soon!” It used to make me so freaking guilty and angry at the same time. He CHOSE to be there. It was his JOB to be there. And I keep that perspective strong when I hit these crazy times. I choose this. I create this life for myself because I feel that it’s work worth doing, and I focus hard on never making the kids feel like I am doing them a favor by busting my ass. Yes, I do it for them, but I do it for me, too. I do it for the work. And I try to remind all of us as often as possible about how lucky we are to be engaged in something creative and fulfilling, and that the stress and the intensity is what bonds us, what makes the climb joyous and exhilarating and exhausting and utterly, totally worth taking.
And this time, especially, I’ll remember Matt, and how anyone in this cast might be a Matt, or might take a journey like his within this project, and that I never know when it might matter that much. I’ll work this week with his inspiration close to my heart.