It has been a crazy journey these past few weeks. I can't believe that I have been away from theatre production for so long! I know that I was working with a pretty awesome group of people this time - but it made me think back over a lot of the productions that I have worked on...
I remember my very first show. Okay...I remember my VERY first show...it was at Madison Heights Elementary School and it was an adaptation of a Dennis the Menace comic. In fact - I recall doing a lot of work on the adaptation...that was third grade. I played Dennis. I knocked down a cherry tree. I believe I was brilliant...but that may just be selective memory. One thing that I remember was that I was supposed to have my Dad make a cherry tree that was hinged so that I could hit the top and it would kinda break in half. But since my main vice is procrastination (and my secondary vice is telling people that my Mom/Dad/Brother/Etc. will do something...) - that part never got built. I believe I just knocked the sucker over.
But I digress. I was actually thinking about the first show that I did outside of school. I actually screwed up my courage as a high school senior and went to the Lynchburg Fine Arts Center and auditioned for A Midsummer Night's Dream. Yeah...nothing like jumping straight in with Shakespeare. I didn't get cast - but I was invited to help with set construction and running the show. I don't remember a THING about what I did for the running of the show. I have vague images of the show and the set (I remember that the king of the fairies "lived" atop a tower onstage that was about 10 feet high...He would step into a stirrup and was flown up and down to his perch. I thought that was awesome.) but the one thing I DO recall is the people. They were so welcoming! Here I was - some punk from Amherst County (the cool theatre program in the area was EC Glass...Amherst did one show a year) but I was made to feel at home.
The cast and crew that I just worked with brought back all those same feelings. Once again - I was an outsider. Most of these folks had worked with each other before, I was from the Lynchburg scene and when I got to rehearsals a few weeks ago...I didn't even know where to park. I had one very close friend in the cast - and I had met a couple of others...
Today was the last performance of The Nerd. When we met before the show for "green room" (pre-show meeting/pep talk. In this case, held in a black hallway...) a couple of the cast and crew shared how much they had enjoyed this production. When we joined hands for the traditional quiet moment before it was time to get to our places - I already had tears in my eyes.
At the very end of the show while the audience was roaring with laughter at the hideous pagan ritual onstage - I was preparing to make my exit. Because of a schedule conflict I was unable to participate in the work session to strike the set (I felt like the kid who has to go to the bathroom when it is time to clear the table after dinner...) and so my last moments would be as the cast exited the stage after curtain call.
The show was running a little long and I knew I was going to be late to the banquet I was attending - but I could not bring myself to leave until the show was completely done. And in the shadows of backstage - maybe nobody could see the tears in my eyes. But I suspect my tears were not the only ones.
All the running back and forth to Bedford? Climbing and descending the stairs to the dressing rooms a dozen times every show? Having to handle the same 6 rock cornish hens for over two weeks? The aging macaroni salad? Tiny cuts on my fingers from plate breaking? Frostbite from the dry ice? Nope - I won't remember those. Well, I'll remember...but they already seem amusing. The only thing that I will take away from this experience is the love and the laughter.
Thanks to Jamie for being the hook that got me back in. And thanks to Karen for finding a way for me to be a part. And to everyone else...thanks for the love.