The End of an Era

30 01 2011

A promo shot for our musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman

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The reason I love theatre is because of the consistency of flux.  No two rehearsals, performances are ever the same.  Theatre is the capturing of a precise moment in time, a fleeting exhilaration and reflection of the human experience never to be seen in the exact way again.  There is a rush of highs, as you get excited by the script for the first time, as you discover the nuances of your lines for the first time, as you play off the brilliance of your colleagues, as you dive deeper into the motivations of your character(s), as you do your first full run-through, as you realize four months in that you’re still learning new things about your own show every time you watch it, and as you take it to full dress rehearsals with beautiful set/make-up/lighting/costume/orchestra and press.

I love theatre because it is a constant self-discovery and mutual learning process.  I love the essence of theatre: put in your all, enjoy your moment, share the beauty, and then move on.  As someone who needs to constantly be doing different things, theatre is perfect, because there is always an upwards trajectory, always a path towards the climactic experience that is the performance.  And yet, through my journey in Kiss of the Spider Woman, I realized that the end product was really never the climax for me.  I mean, it was, but only because it was the culmination of everybody’s hard work, and it was indescribable to feel the vibe of the cast and crew, work off each other, and celebrate our journey together by putting on these six great shows.

For me, the process was much more important than the “goal”.  Getting to know and being inspired by my amazing cast mates and the stellar production team, falling in love with dancing and acting for real for the first time in my life, realizing the true power of the arts to convey important messages and provoke thought and emotion (and realizing that I have the ability to be part of this process), and using this experience as an intense training ground for my acting/singing/dancing/understanding of how theatre operates.  These are the cherished gems that I have received from being part of this production.

Thus, although I really loved being able to share the product of our journey with my dear friends who came to see the show, the greatest highs from the show were really in rehearsals when we were told for the first time to be a pile of dead bodies or a zombie wall, and when I rehearsed a dance 10 times in a row in my apartment and finally got it, and when we are backstage in the theatre making strange noises and actions before we go on stage.

My point is: I love theatre because it’s like a drug that keeps giving higher highs, that is, until you go cold turkey, and withdrawal hits you like a brick wall.  You go from seeing your comrades every single day to suddenly not.  And even if you do get together, it’s not everyone, and it’s never for the same purpose ever again.  Never to create a work of art together in the same way.

And the interesting thing, in my opinion, is its resemblance to a traditional Chinese funeral.

In a more Western funeral, there is often time for the beloved to publicly share memories of the dear one who has passed away.  Contrastingly, in one type of traditional Chinese funeral, the extended family of the loved one is kept extremely busy keeping a fire going, chanting, performing ceremonies for the dead, and essentially keeping so preoccupied that there is no emotional or mental or physical energy left to grieve.  All energy is focused on the ceremonies that need to be done and the proper respects that need to be paid.  In some ways, I think it reflects a little bit on how certain cultures deal with mourning differently, but that’s neither here nor there, at least for today’s post.

My point was: maybe this metaphor is a little morbid, but last night (after our last performance), we worked on striking the set (i.e., taking down the entire set/lighting and properly organizing/storing props/costumes/etc.), which took until 1 AM, and then we went to an awesome cast and crew party, which I only stayed at until 3 AM, but the entire night was so busy and exhausting and wonderful that I never got the chance to process the fact that I’m going to miss these people so much.  I think everyone processes change differently, but I needed time to be away from them before I realized that it’s finally, actually over, and what that really, truly means…

The end of an era.

So, all my ranting here today is a result of the fact that I didn’t get to grieve at the end of our show last night.  I guess this post serves as some attempt at closure for myself, as the reality finally sets in.

Theatre can be beautiful, and my experience with theatre these past few months has been nothing but.

To my beloved Kiss of the Spider Woman family, thank you for the memories.  I love you all and better see you all ASAP!

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2 responses

30 01 2011
Jocelyn

incredible and interesting comparison to funerals! Wish I could have been there to see you perform. So proud and I’m sure it was phenomenal. Much love!

1 02 2011
Rosa

Hey June, I had found your blog a while ago through William’s, but I only made the connection today when I saw all the stuff about Kiss of the Spider Woman. I hope I’ll get to meet you again, because it isn’t every day you meet a person who enjoys performing in musicals and studying in med school.

Congratulations on all the hard work, it definitely payed off! I can relate to the withdrawal feeling of the end of the show, even though I was much less involved for much less time than you crazy cast and crew people were. Going to class with all the songs in my head while knowing that I won’t be playing them again feels so wrong… But there will be other musicals and performances and they will be just as wonderful. And maybe I’ll get to keep in touch with some of the people I met who made those cold and dark January weeks so special this year.

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