“Do you ever get nervous up there?”
The age-old question for performers—the question of fear.
In just about every production I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, whether I’m the lead or the third white girl from the left, I’m asked this question by a person outside of the performance realm. They ensure me that they don’t understand how actors memorize each element of the show from lines to choreography to even just remembering to smile every now and then. I normally reply with “I used to when I first started, but now it just seems like second nature.”
Most recently, that question of fear prompted me to question myself and the things others around me do, though, and how we do them.
Every day, a banker goes to work. Every day a stay-at-home parent wakes up and takes care of their family. Every day a waiter or a writer or a bus driver or even the President of the United States gets up and fulfills their necessary requirements for the day. These could be things they’ve always done. These could be things they’ve just started doing. These could be things they love, or they could be things they don’t like.
But they get up and they do them, and like most people feel about performing, I couldn’t even imagine doing these things.
With most things people do for the first time, there was probably an initial fear or nervousness.
What if they don’t like my work? What if I mess up? What if?
We can sit back and ask ourselves “What if?” all day long, but we will never know what WILL happen if we don’t try. Sometimes, it will be a little messy. Sometimes, it will be hard. Sometimes, you will do all right. Sometimes, you will do it all wrong.
One thing, however, is common among all these instances—you learn something new about yourself.
I recently came across a Japanese term: Wabi-Sabi. It translates to “A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting, peacefully, the natural cycle of growth and decay.”
In every new or old thing you do, there are endless possibilities, but in the end, the best opportunity you have is to take each outcome and turn it into something beautiful.
So why let fear hold you back from trying something new?
Last Friday, Dreamgirls opened at Trustus Theatre and will run through August 1st. The cast includes veterans to the stage and newcomers alike, all representing a long process of hard work, fun, and love that we have put into this show. For some of us, each night may just be another performance, but for others, one or more performances may be among the most nerve-wracking things they’ve ever done. At the end of each night, though, all we can do is do what we do best—put on a show. Things may not go exactly as planned, but that’s live theatre.
In live theatre, we support each other. In live theatre, we help each other. In live theatre, we build each other up.
In live theatre, we find the beauty within our fear and imperfections, and we turn it into art.
I won’t be afraid or nervous. I will be excited and proud.
(Dreamgirls runs June 26-August 1. Go to trustus.org for tickets!)
Photos by Richard Kiraly