Darling, I am growing old,
Silver threads among the gold,
Shine upon my brow today;
Life is fading fast away.

Eben E. Rexford

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Show Must Go On ~

For many years, I enjoyed acting in community theater. It started out as a college class in acting, no lessons, just do it! It took a semester of weekly practices, then nightly rehearsals for a week pryor to the production. Despite the fact that the play, Main Street, was boring, it was well received by the community, and I had been bitten by the theater bug! Oh, this wasn't my first time on stage; I had performed in student productions while growing up. I'd always loved it, but I had no illusions about the quality of either my acting or the professionality of the play. This, however, was different. When I stepped on the stage as an adult, performing in front of people who had paid the price of a ticket, had sat in folding chairs, not because we were their darling children, but because they trusted us to do our best to entertain them, and who listened attentatively because we moved them; when I felt the energy  of my fellow actors and the enthusiasm of the audience, I knew this was something  I was going to keep doing.

Over the years, I acted in one or two plays a year. Although I was a pretty good actor, I had only a mediocre singing ability, so when the group put on musicals, I either had an obsure part in the chorus or served as part of the stage crew. I had a variety of parts in the dramas and comedies, however, often a lead. I think my all-time favorite play was You Can't Take it With You, a hilarious comedy from the 1930s. Our cast had so much fun, I almost cried when it was over. My favorite part over the years was that of a San Francisco Madam in the play Strange Bedfellows. I donned a bright red dress, painted my lips in peaks to my nose, topped my hair with a gaudy red wig, and was transformed into a bodacious, bawdy woman of ill-repute--far removed from my conservative self! 

I finally got to the point that I couldn't handle the productions along with full-time work, but later, when I went to college full time to get my degree, I took some drama courses.  Although I didn't do anymore acting, I got enough experience to qualify myself to teach drama when I got my teaching credential. It was fun working on plays with my students, and also very rewarding, especially when helping kids overcome stagefright. It amazed me how many students I had who really wanted to act, but were terrified of getting in front of their class. Once they finally were able to do a skit a couple of times, they were able to go on stage with little trouble. I incorporated drama into my teaching whenever I could.

The year after I retired from teaching, we moved to Western Washington. I didn't realize it at the time, but I found we had settled in an area rich with wonderful little theater companies. Several times a year I attend a variety of professional quality plays and musicals as well as outstanding local high schools productions. Having been an enthusiastic thespian myself, I'm especially appreciative of the work involved. I can enjoy the plays both for their entertainment value and their artistic achievement. I've also been able to attend some professional productions in Seattle, although I think I enjoy the amateur plays more.

I no longer take part in plays, but I hope I'll always be able to attend them. There's something magical about live theater; I plan to be part of that magic the rest of my life. No matter how old I get, "The Show Must Go On!"