Thursday, September 28, 2006

Why am I doing this?

Amateur theatre.

I've been in quite a few plays in my short lifetime so far: skits, cabarets, one-acts, two-acts, you name it. In most of these performances, I was an actor. Being in a play is typically a stressful affair -- I mean, no one wants it to be so, but usually there is something that everyone worries about, whether it be a wobbly part of the set, a wrong prop, or knowing that one of the actors just just memorized his lines five days before the show. And even if there isn't anything tangible that can go wrong, there is always a chance for a slip-up, someone jumping four pages ahead and then jumping back again, and then you having no idea what the heck you're supposed to say.

Days, hours, or even minutes before going on stage, there can be utter chaos. How on earth are you even supposed to pull this off? We've only done the plate breaking scene once with a real plate! Won't it be clear as day to everyone that you aren't even close to being ready? How long will you be able to keep up the facade?!
Now, this is the appropriate time when you will ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this madness?" There is stress coming out of your ears!

And yes, I have even heard my Dad utter those frenzied words minutes before opening night, getting ready backstage, as the chaos reigns around him. The set will fall over! Hubert doesn't know his lines! I need to run away! Why am I here again?

But, of course, the question is always answered at the end. Somehow, you've managed to pull the play off. Somehow, everything came together in the end. Nothing fell over! No one fumbled up! Somehow, the play was successful! Yes, successful! People actually liked it; heck, they even laughed! You had forgotten how funny it was. You had forgotten how much you love audiences.

After the play, you are on a plateau'd high, and you can't imagine doing anything else but theatre. You know exactly why you do it. For the love of the arts, for the performance, for the entertainment of the audience! You only remember the positive parts of it all; you remember how great your cast is and how wonderful it is that you will be performing this play five more times. Your day job can wait; you are living the high life of an actor now!

Repeated performances are always the best -- you are much less nevous, more excited, and you strive to make every performance the absolute greatest it can be. Finally, you now have the opportunity to actually concentrate on being an actor, rather than chewing your fingernails, asking yourself whether or not Marge will remember her cues.

However, perhaps the worst part of theatre is the end of it. The fact that you were part of this group, this magical ensemble, and suddenly now, you have finished your last show, and it is back to reality for you, man! No more crazy actors, no more theatre highs, no more audiences -- it's back to that grim factory of yours, where you are expected to work as a serf for 16-hours a day, turning trees into Thneeds. Okay, okay, so maybe your job isn't quite that bleak, but anything is depressing after being a real, live actor for two weeks!

But, what about having that magical opportunity to actually make acting your day job? Well, I only promised amateur theatre in this entry. If you've entered the realm of professional theatre, disregard this entry, and please, take me with you!

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