Back of House

I recently wrote about stepping aside and watching the curtain go up for someone. About the anticipation, the concern and the overall sense of helplessness mingled with faith and confidence.

Can there be anything more anxious than having no control over something you are so intricately linked to?

In theatre, when the director wants to be “there” with the performers, he/she stays backstage to feel the energy and be “in with” the show. At least that’s what I call it. Backstage, either stage left or stage right, we wait in “the wings” to feel the rhythm and energy of the performance. From there we are in communion with the production elements – with the stage manager, the crew, the cast, the costumers, etc. No more will those in the show pay attention to the director, for they are now on their own. Yet a step removed still allows the director the intimate experience.

Even further away is being in the House – out with the audience. That’s where I prefer to stay. Out of the way of the cast and crew, not seeing all the behind the scenes details, not trying to micromanage. Yet valuing the impact of the production on the audience, I get a first-hand feel for the response it is creating. I have as much enjoyment watching the audience as I do watching the delivery of the production.

And that’s where I stayed a few nights ago when I once again had the treat of witnessing the presentation of one of my performers. Way in the back, near the exit sign I watched, smiling, knowing the audience was friendly, eager and supportive. Also knowing my performer was well-prepared while exceedingly charged with energy for the room.

I heard every word – clearly. I felt the nervousness coming from the front of stage, watched the audience respond with supportive smiles, with anticipation of greatness. We were all transported into the performer’s grasp. We stayed on the edge, awaiting the energy build, enjoying getting carried into the moment. And when we were excited, we applauded. Loud and vibrant, we responded.

I saw the faces around, felt the rhythm of their breathing, watched them react to the message and so appreciate the delivery. That’s when I knew it worked. I saw it, felt it, experienced it. I had stepped aside, watching the performer take control, deserving the response that came as a result. Now I’m ready for more.

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On February 21st, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by