When I was in my first production as an actor, my heart sank on closing night. It was such a high to come down from, and I didn’t know when I would be lucky enough to work on something like that ever again. And throughout my high school career, I felt the same way each time the lights went down on a production. Being onstage was such a rush, and it was hard to leave that feeling behind. Fortunately, I can tell you that after about a hundred plays, I now feel pretty good about my chances of being cast in another project, and I don’t feel quite so glum when it’s all over.
Tonight begins our final weekend of performances. This has been a great run, featuring some immensely talented actors. We’ve gotten to know each other, went out to eat before or after shows, admired each other’s work, and developed real friendships. We’re all going to miss working on this project together, and no other theater experience will be exactly like it.
As I’ve stated in an earlier post, we actors need to bond closely to each other, enough so that we can trust each other with our emotions and put them on display for the paying public. The more you trust another actor, the more genuine your feelings will be, and the easier they will translate to the audience. I’ve often said being an actor is like being in the foster care system. We’re thrown into a situation where we have to learn how to love each other. We grow close, we earn each other’s affection and trust, and function together as a single unit. But at the end of the run, we must pack up our things and move on, find a new family and start all over again.
It’s our responsibility, our job even, to love our current cast more than we do the last. It’s the only way to create that all-important bond. We must give freely of ourselves, not hold back a piece in reserve because we think the last cast was better, or the next one will be. We must live in the present moment, not the past or the future, because our audience only comes to witness the here and now. That’s what theater is all about: there’s no cut, no second take, no post production. It’s about getting it done right the first time, every time, with witnesses, and the only way to do that is with people you trust implicitly.
The lights will go down soon on season 13 of Pick of the Vine. These ten plays will never be performed together on the same night again. Some of us may never work with each other again, or even see each other again. We will move on to other projects, other scripts, other media, and we will share this same bond with other families. Still, there will be little indelible traces left on each of our hearts that will remind us of this theater, this show, this cast, and despite moving on, those won’t ever wash off.
And that’s what it’s all about.