The eve of an opening night is always tangled up in small details and too little sleep. It’s already 12:43am. I ought to be in bed.
The past few weeks have been one of the most unique experiences of my life at New Covenant School. Working with one’s peers in something as stressful and creatively fun as a Shakespeare play always reveals secrets of your own heart.
Honestly, I scoff at my acting attempts. Give me an audience of thousands and a cause, and I’ll joyfully speak with little fear. But set me in front of a few score friends and acquaintances and ask me to “become someone else,” and I must fight. for. every. inch. of. authenticity. on. the. stage.
I’d much rather direct.
It’s so much less vulnerable.
I have loved seeing these second-sides of my fellow teachers’ personalities during rehearsals.
Most people discover that basic acting is more hard work than talent … but one or two always rise to the surface in any group, and they sparkle on stage. I love seeing people find that in themselves. Quiet folks who get missed in the crowd suddenly bust out fantastic elements of character that no one expected. Who knew Katie could mimic a New Jersey accent so well? I grew up just across the state from Jersey, and my “accent” (if you can call it that) morphs crazily from one region to another during any given scene…. Katie sounds like she grew up just under those fuel tanks you see on the opening to The Sopranos.
My colleagues have been so patient at taking direction given in my bossy, task-oriented tone. Their enthusiasm and willingness to “try it again” (especially when rehearsal the day before was rough or when they just spent an entire day on their feet teaching) encourages my heart so much. Adults don’t complain about a rehearsal schedule — if anything, they’ve come to me and asked several times to schedule more.
Sometimes my soul gets battered working with young’uns– I love them dearly (!) but attitudes wear me down after a while. It was refreshing: to remind the cast of the MLK day rehearsal and hear most of faculty cast members say, “Really?! We don’t have school that day?! Awesome! I’m so glad we can do just a rehearsal on Monday!” (Joey, I’m talking about you. And you wrote the school calendar! LOL)
Tomorrow’s first run of Much Ado will be rough, I know. Because we are all strapped for time (thanks to our ‘real’ job), I cut the rehearsals down to less than minimum. We aren’t kidding ourselves. Opening night won’t be polished, impressive, cutting-edge, or anything fancy.
But we are proud of our community. Of the fact that we have come together to build something bigger than ourselves — and we chose to do it, because we wanted to give our students a gift… a piece of ourselves they never get to see otherwise.
To the ones for whom we pour out our lives each day:
We are happy to have finally shared this experience with you — to know personally the frustrations, long hours, and effort necessary to bring a story to life on a stage.
We did it because we want to make you laugh,
and because we delight in working together.
What a wonderful crew of people God has drawn to this school to be His instruments of change.
On with the show!