The smell of the grease paint. The roar of the crowd. It’s the lure that drives actors around the world. Well, maybe not the grease paint. We’ve evolved to BenNye and Clarisonics to clean our faces now. But the principle still remains.
That drive to be under those stage lights and to hear the audience applaud is what keeps us going. When your housing is questionable, your bank account is low, and you don’t know where your next gig is, wanting to get back out onto that stage keeps you going.
I’m one of the strange actors. After a big production number, I don’t really hear the clapping. I hear laughter and applause in the curtain call, sure, but I don’t base everything I feel off of how loud the audience is being. I see people standing for an ovation or picking their nose, but I hardly ever notice how loud the applause actually is.
But there was one exception. When I was on tour, we played a big house. A really big house. The whole show the other actors were talking about what a great audience we had. It felt like a good show. There was actual energy coming from the audience, and yes, that is a real thing.
But it just felt like a good show like any other good show. Until we got to the curtain call. When we were done bowing, the curtains were supposed to close in front of us. But for some reason there was a missed call between the lighting board and the curtain puller. The house lights came up before the curtain was all the way closed. And the entire cast got to see 2,200 people standing up cheering and clapping for us.
It was inspiring, humbling, and incredible. To see that many people appreciating what we do. To know that all the work we’d done for the past few hours actually affected people, and all the years of training before that actually did us some good.
It makes being broke, tired, and transient worth it.