My mom and I were Skyping a few evenings ago because I am sick, again. It’s still remarkable to me that when I need her, I can have her in my living room anytime I want, without having to travel for 24 hours. Anyway, I was showing her how to upload photographs on to her Facebook page. It was the best hour of my weekend; seeing the photos of my mom’s play. We looked at photos of everything from the erection of the set to the dress rehearsal. I saw Mary and Bill Mitchell playing the token “senile” characters. I saw Brittany and Luke Corliss playing the token “young couple.” And there it was, my red settee that seems to make repeat appearances on the stage.
They were all there. My people, interacting, acting, and playing together. Every person exactly where they were meant to be amongst the sawdust and scripts. Building their characters with each passive moment on stage. Emotions painted on the poised actors’ lips anticipating their cue. Action. Reaction. It was all there. I wish I could have been there.
As we worked through our Mac/Facebook/iPhoto tutor session I began to remember how essential theater is to me and how much I miss having it in my life every day. Don’t get me wrong, I have my share of drama teaching Grade 5 but it isn’t the same. I miss the smell of sawdust on the stage floor. The swing of heavy velvet curtains being pulled and shoved every which way. Thumbed through scripts tainted yellow and curling under massive pencil marks, bent back from intense study. I miss Arby’s sack dinners in the back seat of a packed car rushing to rehearsal on a Wednesday evening. Then again on Thursday and Friday and Saturday. Busy dressing rooms draped with fabric, pins, feathers, make-up kits, water bottles, portable speakers and iPods. Warm ups in a circle, bonding, singing, dancing, praying. Anticipation.
I miss the sound of the audience trickling in and finding their seats. Murmurs of excitement, recognition. The soft call from the stage manager warning 5 minutes until curtain. Hushed steps on a black stage moving between narrow lanes of backdrops and flats. Silent movement into starting position. Adrenaline. I miss the moment when the house lights drop and the opening music bleeds into the air. Then, finally, warm lights shine on a chilly stage penetrating your soul and signaling your character to emerge. Play on.
My mom and I had such fun looking at those photos together, across oceans. Their show closed this weekend and even though I didn’t see it in person, I know exactly how it went. I know that the audience adored Mary and Bill and Brittany and Luke and especially my little mom. They laughed and played right along with my people, just as I would have had I been there. I know they applauded and cheered and complimented each actor. I came to realize how really lucky I am to have a community where, when you put your heart and soul into something you care about, they compliment you. No matter what, they embrace and appreciate you. I think that’s what theater does for us. It brings us together to play and appreciate each other. What’s better than that? Not much, I think.
(Thank you Mom for sharing that little piece of joy with me.)