The Audience Will Love It

I know what I want to write about. I want to write about my turn away from depression and anxiety to a more happy state of mind. It doesn’t seem right though. I’ve been close enough to bipolar to wonder when I seem to snap out of a funk if this is just a temporary euphoria that will again be replaced with a inky darkness of despair. I suppose that fear taints all of the good feelings that I experience. It’s easy to get in that habit, to expect the worst, especially when the world seems as gloomy as it does these days.

I’m not even quite sure what has effected my change, though I suspect that it has something to do with the Dalai Lama and imagining clown noses on the people who make me anxious and sad. Maybe it’s a sympathy for the people who hurt so much that they feel they need to hurt others. I’ve known what it is like to hurt so bad emotionally that you strike out at others with spite and vitriol. It’s a terrible place to be, a place you wish someone else could pull you out of. It takes a long time to see that you can pull yourself out, if you work at it a little. It’s not easy. Western culture seems to want to treat the darkness of emotion with pharmaceuticals, therapy costs to much to be covered by our medical plans. Part of me wishes sometimes that I could be a content church goer, someone who could find comfort in more accepted western religion. Some of the most caring and emotionally helpful people I’ve know have been priests or pastors, though I’ve never known them in a church.

I miss my friend Steven at times like this. He had trained to be a priest, had spent time in the Vatican studying. I knew him as a theater set designer. His office and the theater where littered with wonderful signs with Latin words that no one understood but Steven and the people he explained them to. He never pressed his religion on anyone, but it flowed from him in a way that I wish more holy people would let happen. He was a big bear of a man, with a gruff demeanor, and a heart of gold big enough to share with far more people that anyone should expect. I miss his calming influence, his laugh.

I miss my friend Doc too. Both Steven and Doc worked at the same theater. You couldn’t have much more of a different pair. Steven the big bear, and Doc the short stocky, powerful man. Steven was a devout Catholic, Doc a Unitarian Minister, and yet they both exuded the same calm and cheerfulness that put me at ease when I worked for them or with them.

We worked with difficult, demanding people in the theater. Actors and Directors are always wont to be difficult for theater techs. Actors and Directors practice plays for weeks before technical folks get involved in a production. They’ve worked out their inter-personal relationships and have gotten somewhat comfortable with the play, with their roles. Then you introduce a stage, lights, a set, props and lots of people to make those things work. Techs get to practice a play for a couple of weeks, if that. They’re a different sort of community, a different sort character. Steven and Doc were the head techs for many of the productions I worked on. Their calming influence kept their flocks of lighting geeks, prop nerds, and shift crews from getting too worked up about their difficulties finding their footing among the actors who had already started to trot on their path to a production.

Those few days that Techs have to come to understand their place on the play, the rhythms that a play falls into as the sets and props move, as the actors make costume changes, as we all move towards and audience are hectic and stressful. There’s always so much to do, so much to practice, so much to get right. There were many times I told myself that I would never do this again, it was too much. How many times could we be yelled at before we just walked away? Through it all there were Steven and Doc, weathering the stress with us, offering advice, figuring out how to make things work.

You know though, somehow things always seemed to work themselves out. No matter how bad it looked to be, by the time an audience appeared the production was ready. Some nights things weren’t perfect, some nights minor catastrophes appeared along with the actors. We got through them though. What else could you do? The show must go on. I think that’s something that can help people get beyond the dark places in their own lives.

We all try really hard to do what we think is right. We all try to do what is expected of us. The Directors in our lives try to get us to do more than we might realize we can do. They can usually get us to do that little extra we didn’t think we were capable of. No matter how bad things seem, how much we screw up, we mostly get it right, and that’s enough for an audience. The audience can tell when you’re trying. They will respond to it. The audience wants you to succeed. It’s always easier to realize this when you have a Steven and Doc to help you see it. So when things are bleak, when you feel like you’ve been a week from opening night for months, remember that Steven and Doc are there to remind you things will work out, the show will go up, and the audience will love it.

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