I apologize for the break from your regularly scheduled program. Honestly, it’s been a really busy, rough week, but that’s fine. You have to have the rough weeks to appreciate the good ones.
In theatre there is such fierce competition for jobs, a lot of people have this attitude that if you for one moment don’t want to be doing the show, you should quit and go home because there are a hundred other people who want your job.
Now I agree if you’re miserable all the time, you probably shouldn’t be performing, but I don’t think you have to love every instant of every show. There are some productions that I’ve done for the paycheck. Being on stage isn’t a bad way to earn said paycheck, but the show wasn’t great, or the cast was meh, or my track could have been done by a monkey in a tutu. But I still showed up and did my best because I’m a professional, and that’s my job.
One of my favorite people to work with was the lead in a show that just wasn’t that good. The cast was great, the production was awesome, but there’s only so much glitter that will stick to a cardboard box. One day when the cast was really down, he told us all, “Well, kids, we’re saddled with a shit show. But we’re going to get through it because we’re getting paid to.” And it was true. We got through it, and the next production I got to do with this lovely gent was brilliant.
Then there are the shows where the stage lights shine down and bring new life to the show. A show where there’s depth and meaning that transforms the audience. Or maybe a show where you dance your face off so hardcore, you can’t even feel your feet anymore. A show that is thrilling to perform and a joy to be a part of. And then I show up because I love my job.
But if you say all shows are equally wonderful to be in, doesn’t that devalue the truly brilliant ones? Doesn’t that insult the productions where the stars align to create a truly spectacular show?
And some nights, the audiences are just bad. Sure, you need to give them a great show. They paid for their ticket, and you want to do your best to make sure they’ll say something nice about the show to a friend who might buy a ticket and create a better audience for tomorrow night’s show.
But I don’t think admitting that you have a bad audience makes you unworthy to be a performer. Go out and do your best work, but it’s okay to know the audience sucks. Because then when you have two thousand people standing and cheering, you’ll appreciate it more.
The bad doesn’t negate the value of what we do. It gives us perspective to enjoy the truly beautiful moments that we as actors are privileged enough to strive for.
Shit doesn’t ruin gold. It makes you appreciate the sparkle more.