I love theatre. I mean, clearly. I do it for a living. But being a professional performer is so much more than a job. First, you have to be willing to not have a job. Unemployment, at least a bit here and there, is fairly inevitable. Then you have to be willing to move around a lot. Sometimes traveling on holidays like Christmas. You can’t get time off for little things like baby showers for future nephews. Or sometimes even big things like funerals. You’ll get hurt. You’ll botch the audition. Mess up onstage. End up naked by accident onstage. And somehow, it’s all worth it.
It’s not the extremely lucrative paycheck that keeps me showing up for half hour call every day.It’s not the applause or the fact that my good makeup is at the theatre, either. It’s the off chance that this show, the one you showed up to do even though you feel like a steaming pile of poo and just want to curl up and sleep, might actually affect someone. That one person in the audience might go home and remember the story you told. Or the gag that made them laugh. Maybe one of your lines reminded them of a long lost friend. Or maybe, just maybe you pulled them out of reality for one night and made their lives just a little bit brighter.
So, we show up and hope for a good house. Paint our faces with makeup to within an inch of our pores’ lives and hope the onstage monitors actually work. And even if the monitors don’t work, we will keep singing. Because each of us had that moment in the audience. That brilliant moment where ordinary people created magic onstage, and we will strive for that magic eight times a week. No matter how tired we are, and no matter how hot it is under the stage lights. Because if we have the opportunity to create that magic for one person, it is worth all the blisters and bruises and student loan payments. We may not run into burning buildings or do lung transplants, but for a few hours, we can make someone’s life better. And that makes all the difference in the world.