See that grinning fool up there in the front row/left? Yes, that’d be me. And that look on my face is what theater does to me; when I sit in the audience. When I think about it later. When I finally took the leap and auditioned again. It’s what going after my heart’s true creative passion brings– that look. On my face.
I am one of those people who doesn’t have just one “thing;” I need to try on a variety before I get just the right fit. And in doing so end up being a fierce mama bear who writes, runs, speaks, sings, acts, is passionate about diversity and equity, works full time in education and manages people like they are her very own people. I always joke that I don’t half do anything– and when I crash, I crash HARD.
For the past 2 months I have spent some part of almost every evening with those wonderful, talented, weird theater people in that picture with me, rehearsing for a local production of Oliver!, that opens this week. I have spent countless hours away from my kids, my boyfriend, and my friends; I have not returned calls, gone on a run or made it to the gym. I’ve been truly running on empty– for the sake of that smile on my face. For the sake of doing me. BEING ME. But Kate, didn’t you say that about training for a half marathon? About volunteering abroad? About nurturing your babies? About marching in pride parades and anti-racism protests? God bless woman could you just NOT for a second?
Well, yes. I suppose I could not. But. My son’s teacher gave him the award for “Creativity” for this year in school and my heart soared for him– and then for me. Because of course my kid did, because my kid sees that being creative, weird, artistic and brave brings a smile like that to his mama’s face. My little one told me last week that his favorite weekend recently was when we went to paint the set. And by “paint” I mean they painted styrofoam bits that are now rocks on the walls of the set and then played silly games with some kids in the cast for the majority of the time. But they got to be there. To feel the energy of the stage. To hear the cast singing along to ipods blasting showtunes. To see me– their mama– doing her thing. I cannot wait for them to come this weekend and sit in the magical, expectant theater seats when the band plays, the lights come up and I come out.
A friend recently polled a few of us on “why theater?” and I couldn’t really answer it at the time. But now, as I sit nightly backstage and listen to my cast-mates on stage, as I walk into the bright lights and bring the comedic relief to a somewhat dark show, as I feel the butterflies and the warmth of doing something awesome…? I know the answer. The answer is just: cause theater. Art. Creativity. Light. Doing the thing that lives under your heart and giving it wings to fly free. I am so grateful that I get to do theater again. That I was brave enough to try and the Director met me with a “yes.”