I’m a bad writer I know. Sorry. Was kind of busy being all on stage and stuff. The final installment of my going on about art and acting takes us backstage during the performances.
The thing about finally having the curtain go up is it’s pretty much – sink or swim. You either go out there, remember your stuff and do your best, or you flub on it fantastically. I’ve only witnessed one flub in my life. Most people when they get out there they do just fine. Being on stage, for me anyway, feels great – I get immediate feedback from the audience – laughter, gasps, whatever, and I know I’m doing my job well. This show was a comedy – and it made me so happy to know that the work I had been putting in for weeks was paying off every time the audience laughed. My scene partner and I did little victory celebrations after every run – we love entertaining .
Being backstage – however – is like being in the airplane before you go skydiving. You’re in the dark, you can hear the lines on stage, and you estimate just how long it will be before you have to go out. You run that stupid ‘fuck it’ line in your head – you know, the one that always always always screw up no matter how many times you’ve practised it. Then the ‘oh shit’ last minute prop check before you go out, I mean the book you put on the stand was there earlier BUT IS IT REALLY STILL THERE?! IS IT?!? IS IT?!?! YOU SHOULD GO CHECK. There are people backstage, sometimes whispering, sometimes they’re supposed to be there, sometimes they’re not – you’ll trip over one of each. At least. Someone will be late and the stage manager will do that yelling whisper thing that they magically do and it will all get sorted out of fear (stage managers are not to be trifled with, in fact I suggest a ritual offering of chocolate before each show). Then it’s your cue, and everything just falls away. If the prop is there it is, if not it’s not and you improvise. Energy is at it’s highest, the lines just come out like second nature and there’s hardly any thinking involved. If you’ve rehearsed well with your scene partner any botched line isn’t noticeable, and the chemistry of the scene smooths over those small rough patches.
Then the scene is over. And if you’re like myself and my scene partner it’s high fives back stage and sighs of relief that we did the job well. As well as celebratory chocolate in the green room during intermission. The end of every show is treated as an accomplishment- and after the show it’s always fun to hang out in the lobby and let people ask you questions about your role and chat. Being able to make any sort of impact, be it making someone laugh, or think, or cry just by being on a stage for ten minutes is a really unique experience.
In short. It’s great. Acting is pretty great. It’s got some amazing moments, stressful moments, challenging moments, but on the whole it’s great, and honestly everyone should give it a go at least once in their lives.