Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Think I See a Glimmer

I know I talk about work so much in this blog, but when I sort of revived it recently, I decided that I needed a focus, something to keep me motivated. I wanted to pick something that I would be compelled to write about anyhow so that I would not just give up. So, I have been writing about this show.

I wonder a little bit, now, if this experience has become another example of my writing something into existence that might not occur otherwise. I have done this a number of times, as it turns out. This show has been actively in the works since the middle of October, and a twinkle in my eye for two years before that. I have been writing for all of that time about how special it would be, how much it would mean to all of us, how much we all could learn. And…we have. Would this have happened if I hadn’t set this intention so strongly, and written it out with such specificity and deliberation? I don’t really know, but honestly, it doesn’t matter now. It is here. It has become the vision, the intention. It’s become that already, and it’s only Tuesday.

It is magical, as I knew it would be. I have moments of doubt where I think I’m just making too much of it all, and making much ado about nothing in particular. It’s not rocket science; it’s musical theater. It’s high school theater, for cry-sakes. Why can't I get through the freaking finale without crying? We’re not curing cancer or anything.

And yet…if you don’t recognize moments when they happen, what’s really the point of anything? I could just go through my life, day after day, doing the tasks that need doing, teaching the lessons I am paid to teach, punching the clock, grading the papers, living a quiet, gentle, peaceful life, free of all drama, either on or off the stage. I choose, instead, to make theater. When I’m not making theater, I still choose to not only recognize the moments, but sometimes, create them. And hopefully, if I am doing it the way I am intending to, the moments are not just for me. When I work in the theater, the moments are for the kids who make a friend, who overcome something in themselves that troubles them, who get to wear a very pretty dress and a feather hat. They’re for the parents who get to see their child excel, and express something about themselves that they used to think only they could appreciate, and instead, get to see it shared with others.

Oh, if life were made of moments, even now and then a bad one.
But if life were only moments, then you'd never know you had one.

I have my blogging doubts now, about writing about this, as I have all along. That if someone reads this, they would only think that I am a psycho ego-maniac, needing to always sound like the big important cheese. I don’t mean to be that, or to do that. It’s the Big Fear, and the thing I most feel like I have to apologize for, and try to guard against. And yet, this little blog is kind of the story of how I live my life, so by definition it has to be about me, and my perceptions about things. Would you like to know how many times I will re-read this one stupid paragraph and say, “Am I apologizing too much? Am I over-explaining? Over compensating for actually just being utterly self-absorbed?” I don’t know. Probably a bunch. And then eventually I’ll just say, eff-this, and hit publish. My constant insistence that “it’s not all about me” seems ironic in this context.


The boy who plays Jack in this show suffers from anxiety, as lots of people do. In the past two rehearsals, this kid has performed “Giants in the Sky” triumphantly. Soaring vocals, dead-on intentions, and cheers and howls from his cast mates. The beaming grin on his face as he hits that last soaring tenor note is all him, genuine and exultant, and if that’s not real, and worthwhile, then what the hell is? Nothing. Someday, he’ll be nervous for a job interview or something, and he’ll think, “I nailed Giants in the Sky and everyone cheered for me. I can certainly nail this.” And maybe that little glow that he felt in those moments will be the thing that gives him courage to walk through the door and convince those people-in-suits that he is the one who deserves the job. Or maybe not. Maybe it’ll be nothing, and won’t linger for him. How are we to know? How are we ever to know?

Since Beauty and the Beast, I have to decided to err on the side of, “It might matter.” When Matt’s mother hugged me at his wake, and said, “Matt thought that Beauty and the Beast was the greatest moment of his life,” something shifted in me, and in my perceptions of events things impact people. This might be nothing, this little show. But then again…it might be something. I make it matter to me. And this time, I think pretty much all of them have made it matter to them, too.

We all ordered t-shirts for this show, and we have names or phrases on our backs. Some say character names: BWife (our abbreviation for Baker’s Wife), Got Milk? for Milky White. Once Upon a Time for the Narrator. Wishes Come True, Not Free for my hard-working student director. Mine will say, “Children Will Listen.” It’s become a cliché from this show, almost, but it captures the sense of responsibility I feel for making this all come out right.

Careful the things you say. Children will listen.
Careful the things you do. Children will see, and learn.
Children may not obey, but children will listen.
Children will look to you for which way to turn
to learn what to be...
Careful before you say "Listen to me."
Children will listen...

I love this work. I hope I get to keep doing it for a really, really long time.

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