Monday, October 16, 2006

bright lights

There is something about empty auditoriums (or auditoria. yes, i actually checked) at the end of a performance, especially the ones that you've been a part of. When all attendant families are done meeting and greeting; when all the congratulation and hugging and screaming is complete. When costumes are removed and make-up is taken off. When everyone is making plans about the rest of the night - dinner and parties and sleep. When chatter is muted and everyone's gone.
And the hall sits empty and yellow and familiar.

There's no one around but you and the empty stage, from which all trace of the evening has removed except for those inevitable little things everyone overlooks; a flower, a handkerchief, a ribbon.

And you sit in the first row of the audience and you look at where you were; and you remember where you've been.
You think about old performances: the things you did wrong and the things you did right. The time you sat, frozen, for almost the entire performance till your foot went to sleep and your fingers went numb and people told you they noticed you more than the play just because you stayed still so well. The times your school won Best Play at inter-school fests and how you were there both times. The time the stage monitors for a dance didn't work and you counted everyone through the entire performance. The time you wore new stockings for a dance and tore them on a nail in the ladies' room just before the performance. All the time you spent editing music and dialogue. All the time spent organizing. All the time spent arguing.
You think of greenrooms and make-up and losing things. Borrowed pins and face wash. Last minute panic. Little quarrels. Mixed instructions and many confusions. Rushing around backstage just because it makes you feel important. Screw-ups and fix-ups. The friends you made and the ones you lost. Emergencies and handling them. The thrill of responsibility. The practices and the hard work and all the stress and tension you've been through; all for that one perfect moment that you'll never remember anything of but the emotion, because those lights are shining in your eyes and blinding you and you can't see a thing, but you don't care because you're in that moment and nothing else matters at all.
The butterflies before every performance, and the relief after. That ecstatic sense of a job well done. The after-parties. That's what you sit there and think of.
That's what you remember.

Sometimes the best part of a performance is the afterward.

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