Anyone who has been associated with the life of theater knows this emotional roller coaster, the ever-ticking clock counting down to opening day. But, for those who don’t, let me educate you on this common struggle—excitement, nervousness, and absolute “crap-myself” fear are the three main emotions contributing to this vomit-inducing experience (Seriously, kids can blow chunks; trust me).
This torture starts the day after the script is obtained. Those happy souls who got a part in the show go home and giddily highlight all of their lines, reading through the words in their heads as they try to become their characters in the subconscious. The day finally comes to sit in a room filled with new cast mates and read through the whole show, together.
This is excitement—laughter filling your ears every day from 3:30-4:30, as people stumble over pronunciations, or improve witty comments alongside your words—this is theater in its rawest form.
Flash forward three weeks into production. Lines are supposed to be memorized, and yet the entire cast, defeat prevalent across their expressions, shyly asks for the prompter to read the forgotten lines. A disgusting pit of emotion weighs heavily in the bottoms of stomachs because all can feel the nonexistent judgment of peers looming over their every move.
This is nervousness—“I still have time” repeats itself in your ears every night as you lay in bed, struggling to go through the whole show smoothly.
Next thing ya’ know? Bam. It’s the week of the show:
- Lines memorized
- Set finished
- Costumes complete
- Make-up caked on faces
- Regrets pollute the atmosphere.
- “Why didn’t I learn my lines sooner?”
- “Why did I wait so long to bring in my props?”
- “Where the HECK is my costume?”
No room for mistakes. Total terror washes over every fiber of existence for every hour wasted doing unimportant things, like school work or cleaning! Actors prepare themselves for complete and utter failure, as to cushion the blow from the mind-boggling, disastrous possibilities that plague the consciousness.
This “crap myself!” fear—I have no time left. It’s here. I’m absolutely petrified of everything—my lines and the lights and the props and the mic and the director and the actors, and the audience.
Until . . .
The clock strikes 7 o’clock, opening night, Friday.
Bright shiny lights illuminate the stage. Every single minute of the intense rollercoaster ride was completely worth it. The feeling of invincibility outshines every dark, anxiety-producing thought.
This is my stage—And God, does it feel good.
While this entire ordeal may seem irrelevant to many, it is the world to a select few thespians. It defines their experience, start to finish. Theater in its rawest form.
This article appears on Weelunk via a partnership with the John Marshall High School Blog.