Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Show Must Go On - August 9, 2009

Life is good. I have a job interview tomorrow at the MTC to see if they want to hire me in place of being a volunteer (doing similar to what I’ve been doing the last few months). I still don’t know what my plans are for life after September. And I don’t even know where to look… but I guess I’ll be patient, send out a resume, and keep my spiritual eyes and ears open. My cousin enters the MTC this Wednesday – she’s going to the Argentina Rosario Mission. I will be somewhere in the mountains of Idaho… hopefully receiving revelation to direct the course of my life forever (or at least the next few months).

Both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake City Weekly came to review the Pirates of Penzance on Friday. We perform every Friday, Saturday, and Monday in August. I knew they were coming, but that didn’t change the anxiety that grew from their presence. In the acting world, newspaper reviews are viewed with a sort of awed reverence. A great review can boost your spirits and make the play incredible because you believe what the reviewer wrote… and a bad review, while it probably will also sell tickets, can cause you to reflect on your acting and “prove the reviewer wrong.” Each of our performances thus far had included one or two minor technical issues (as they always do) and we wondered if there would be any problems with this one.

It didn’t help that I had taken my costume home to wash the makeup out of the collar and had forgotten to bring it with me to the theatre. When I realized that, it was 6:09. It takes an hour to get back to Provo and an hour to return to Salt Lake. There was no way I could get my costume. Thankfully, the Lord reminded me that my grandmother was attending the performance and I asked her to pick it up on her way. As I waited and watched the clock tick closer and closer to show time, I realized I had two options. I could either hyperventilate, tell everyone I had forgotten my costume and ruin their spirits, and wait for it to get there, or get everything else ready, help everyone warm up their voices, assure them if they asked that my grandmother was bringing my costume, and wait for it to get there. I chose the latter, and a wave of peace washed over me. Perspective is a powerful thing! Five minutes before the show started, my cousin ran in carrying two puffy white shirts. Perfect timing.

Early in the musical, I have a somewhat angry song where I berate Ruth (my former nursemaid) for deceiving me. That same night, about halfway through the song, a massive fly that had been flying around began to land on our faces – right in the middle of our foreheads. It landed on my face, then flew away and landed on Ruth’s face, then back to my face, then back to her face. At first, I was able to ignore it – I thought, “I’m an actor – I can ignore a fly and keep going with the scene.” But it continued to land on us – and always on our faces! I finally tried to swat it away, the audience laughed, and I realized that they were paying more attention to the fly than they were to us! The scene ended, I sent Ruth away, and the audience applauded our performance. The fly then landed on my face again – right between my eyes. I brought both hands up and, miraculously, was able to hit it hard enough that it was stunned on the floor, where I summarily stomped it with my boot. The audience roared, and their applause was huge – much more than at the end of the song we had just finished.

The first act continued without flaw, but early in the second act the music suddenly cut out. We have some actors that specialize in improv, and one began taking orders for dinner. He then realized it was probably too late for dinner, so he asked what everyone wanted for breakfast. The answer was pancakes. Again, the audience laughed and, while they were probably aware of our discomfort, they were happy to see it from a different perspective.

In each case on stage, there were multiple possible perspectives through which to see the things that were happening. It would have been easy to see them each as disasters that could ruin us on the night that reviewers would be taking a critical eye to the show. But it was also just as valid to see them as opportunities to shine in difficult circumstances. One perspective is immobilizing, while the other is enabling… even they describe the same event.

Each of us has things that happen in the course of our lives that could, potentially, ruin everything. They probably won’t. We make mistakes that could end in complete disaster. They usually don’t. And, even if they do, life goes on. There’s a great saying in show business that applies to life in so many ways – “The show must go on.” It means that, no matter what happens off the stage, when it comes time to take your character to the stage, you do it. If someone misses a critical entrance and the music goes out and the audience isn’t laughing at your jokes, you go with it. Because, ultimately, the performance depends on you as much as it does on everything else. You have the power to make it a great performance in spite of everything else that happens. In the same way, life swirls around us and often leaves us with few options. Failure stares us in the face and the things we hope for don’t go according to plan. That’s when it’s time to put your faith in the Lord and improv – follow the guidance of the Spirit and do what feels right. He will take you by the hand and bless you in your life.

I know that God loves us. He is watching us perform our lives, and He knows that life is hard. He also knows that we haven’t had the opportunity to memorize the script or the stage directions of life, and so He is constantly giving us direction. Some scenes in life go perfectly – according to plan and help us feel like we are doing the right thing. And others, even when we pray for success under critical review, seem full of potential frustrations and failure. We will often need to improv and make our own decisions… but He is always there. If we can look at life as a stage designed for our success – and realize that our only audience is He who loves us – then perhaps it will be easier to pick ourselves up when we fall and say, “The show must go on.”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Custom Search