Thoughts From Behind The Scenes: An Actor’s Perspective

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During the production process of “Dead Man’s Shoes”,
we’re posting a number of journal entries from folks working
in different areas of the show. Next up is actor Maggie Meyer.  Maggie has
been in two other Williamston Theatre productions, “Panache”
and “Home: Voices From The Midwest”.  Here she chats about the process
of working on this production.

I’ll preface with: I don’t have children and I wouldn’t begin to compare any experience I’ve had to the raising of a child, however, working on a new play is as close as I’ve come.  It’s thrilling, scary, important, and quite the responsibility.  Just like a newborn baby, a newborn play is also wet behind the ears and it takes a village, or rather a cast/crew/director/playwright/designer family to raise it.  Then, if all goes well, people come and pay to see our baby.

(Side note: Maybe real live babies should charge an admission fee to be held or goo-goo-gah-gah-ed at. I bet John Lepard and Emily Sutton-Smith’s little Milo could have three semesters of college paid for by now.)

“It’s the hardest job in the world, but by far the most rewarding,” –My Mom  (and I’m sure many other Moms and Dads)

Raising a soon-to-be walking, talking, societal contributing human being is just plain hard work, I’m sure of that.  And yet a really good, rewarding, and fun kind of hard, just like theatre, specifically new theatre with Dead Man’s Shoes.  Perhaps we use the same kind of fuel to steam ahead both with the raising of a play, and of a child. Maybe only the tank size differs?  Or, maybe the parents use diesel? Okay, so we all gas up at the same station, but the parents pull all night-ers in semi trucks, and we non-parent theatre people fill up enough to get us to rehearsal and back.

As I said up top, I know nothing about the topic in which I’m comparing the maturation of a new play, but here I go with another parallel kinship.  Importance.  I believe the work we do in theatre is important. As both an actor and an audience member one play can help me better understand myself, my relationship with the world, with people, and with God. In a way theatre guides me, with a stern and loving grip much like a parent might hold the hand of a child.

The worry of a parent, I can only imagine. I know my Mom doesn’t sleep too well.  I lie awake many nights hoping I’m doing all I can to help raise this Dead Man’s Shoes baby.  The rehearsal process for me is like waiting in line for the Raptor at Cedar Point.  It’s the hardest and scariest part of the ride for me, waiting in line.  All the what if’s clog up your brains, the unknowns take up precious real estate in your muscle fibers, your intuition becomes a stranger; someone you don’t trust, and your worry numbs your joy.  Then the buckle clicks, you jolt forward and go! You can’t jump off in the middle, you don’t even want to, and when it’s over you only want to do it again.  An object in motion stays in motion/ the show must go on/ life goes on. I suppose I could have opted to eat a corndog and sit out the Raptor but instead I got in line and never looked back. Much like a baby that you can’t trade in for a kitten. You’re committed.  No, that’s not the comparison I wanted to make.  As cliché as it is, life is a roller coaster, eh?  Or maybe life is more like waiting in line for the roller coaster. When it’s all over, you wonder why you worried so much.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” Mark Twain

It is my hope that we can send Dead Man’s Shoes off to kindergarten proud of the young thing it has become.  Every day has been rewarding.

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