There’s a lot of drama in Drama.
I don’t do drama. I sort of hate it in the real world. (Seriously, if you complicate my life unnecessarily, I will back away slowly). But, my daughter—the drama queen since birth—loves it and I love her, so I do drama and have done H.S. drama for years now — fall plays, spring musicals.
The first H.S. musical she was involved in (as a middle schooler) was an eye-opening experience for me. I went to a costume meeting and was shocked to find that parents made all the costumes.
How. Do. You. Make. All. Of. These? (It was “Seussical, the Musical”)
The “costume moms” not only made them, but they had fun doing it. I helped … as much as one can with a hot glue gun and elementary sewing skills. And, it was kinda fun. It was also stressful and, when you’re behind the scenes, your privy to some of the bickering and — well, drama — going on in the production from the stage crew, to the administration, to the cast, to the parents.
I took the tack I always do, trying to steer clear of it. I’m a master at listening to people vent without agreeing or getting involved myself. I don’t like talking shit about people and I don’t necessarily like you to talk shit about people to me because the truth is that I know a ton of people. And, I like most people. Even if I don’t care for a person, I can usually find something to like about them (or, at least, a reason why they are the way they are).
Toward the end of every production, particularly “hell week” (the week before the show opens) and show weekend, everyone is grumpy and tired and sick and irritated with each other and just ready to be done with it all. It happens every time and I’ve learned to weather the storm, by staying positive.
It takes a toll on me because it requires some faking on my part. Pretending everything is good and right and we’re all just one happy theater family requires ignoring some stuff and some people. I find the acting exhausting, but I do it because it’s better than that alternative — diving into the pool of negativity puddling up around me.
This year, I worked the Candygrams table at two shows with a mom new to the H.S. theater program. Her kids were young, middle-schoolers cast in the H.S. production. We chatted between customers and at the end of the weekend, she said: “I just want to say thanks for making this such a great experience. It’s been great working with you & my kids have loved being a part of the show. They’re hooked.”
She was clearly oblivious of the stuff going on under the surface and if I played a role in shielding her from it, then I’m truly grateful I could do that for her.
I’m a big believer in being authentic. I don’t hide my flaws or mistakes if only because it’s just so exhausting to try to be something you are not.
But there are times when it pays to fake it until you make it. In the end, that weekend turned out to be a positive experience for both of us.
About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”