Up a steep and very narrow stairway…

9 Nov

My favorite song in A Chorus Line is At the Ballet.  Three girls sing about the various difficulties in their lives, then each describes how her “safe place” was ballet class.  No matter what was going on outside, everything is beautiful at the ballet.

That’s how I feel about theater.

I was in an extremely intense rehearsal process (read:  six days a week) when all hell broke loose with Sweet Pea recently.  I told my director, but no one else.  I needed to NOT have to answer questions.  I wanted to walk in the door and just do my job; focus on something completely different. 

There is something about the smell of the musty theater that sucks me in.  I leave the fresh air of the outdoors and my eyes adjust to the dark light.  I drop my bags and breathe…ahead of me lies two hours of hard work, but I am only responsible for myself, and there’s freedom in that.  I hoist myself onto the jagged stage.  As I stretch I think about all the other performers who have worked on this stage…what were they thinking and feeling…what did they leave behind…

The director molds me like clay.  Sometimes with gentle pushes, other times with firm twists and punches.  It can hurt.  I am a perfectionist; I want it right, and I’m not always patient in the process.  I fight back tears when I’ve tried it over and over and still can’t get it the way she wants it. 

Sing it again, say it again, do it again. 



Louder, please. 



More subtle. 

Faster there. 

Slow that down.

You’re thinking too much!

Let go.

And just when I think I’m never going to get it, she looks at me and smiles.  You’ve got it.  That’s it.  It’s there.  Now don’t change a thing.

There is something about having someone else in control, and being someone else at the same time, that takes the pressure of my life off my shoulders for a few hours.  Granted, there’s a new pressure, but it’s pleasurable even in its pain.  With every line that I say, every note that I sing, every dance step, every pratfall, I leave the realities of my life behind. 

Maybe I’m running away, but I won’t apologize for it. 

Because at the end of every night I take off my dance shoes and stuff them in my bag, gather my script and all my notes, pick up my water, and head back out the door.  Away from the clarity of the stuffy theater.  Back into the fresh air of my complicated life.


3 Responses to “Up a steep and very narrow stairway…”

  1. Barb November 9, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    Bravo! Very compelling and the irony at the end is brilliant.

  2. Darla November 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm #

    That is what I call masterful writing.

  3. Julie November 9, 2009 at 5:22 pm #

    Glad you are writing again!!

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