[This should have been posted yesterday, which is when I wrote this, but the keyboard went haywire and I had to stop working on it.]
Hello again! I haven’t really had time to write much because I’ve been very busy. I think I might have mentioned (but didn’t go into much detail about) a play that I am in. I’ve been very, very busy working on this play. Just this last week was Tech Week, when we erect the set and start using microphones and getting used to the actual stage. Last night (Friday) was opening night of my high school’s play, The Diary of Anne Frank by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett. Tonight (Saturday) we show the play for the second and last time. (We have been talking about today–the last night–in wistful terms. All of us in the cast, I think, have had fun doing The Diary of Anne Frank.)
What still seems crazy to me is that, even though I’ve only had one middle school drama class and nothing else, somehow I was given the lead role of Anne Frank! I’ve had my work cut out for me, learning not only my numerous lines, but how to move on stage, deal with mix-ups, scene changes, and even uproarious laughter. God has helped me to be strong and persevere and be diligent, to do my homework and halfway pay attention in class. I’ve needed extra help this last week, being up way later than usual on stage. Wednesday I was late for rehearsal, which made me mad at myself. But everyone was very kind and helped me calm down. (“This is about the point last year that Jane was freaking out. Wasn’t it about Wednesday, [hair dresser]?”) Thursday morning in Bible class I had a headache and was SO tired and teared up and the teacher noticed and especially prayed for me. We’d been reading Joshua lately in Bible, and were taking a open-Bible quiz. I was so comforted when I read Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong an courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Anyway, the moment I’ve been preparing for for almost four months–opening night–came last evening. It went wonderfully!!! Thursday was final dress rehearsal, and we’d had a few mess-ups. I’d had to do improvisation for a bit in one scene–now my improv has turned into a cast-wide joke. “…Good thing we had no ‘big trucks’ today!” I don’t even know what I said in the improv, except I babbled something about ‘big trucks’, and sometimes now ‘big trucks’ is what we use to laugh about large, confusing line mix-ups. It has been funny to see how a joke formed and has evolved in only a night and a day.
Well, so, anyway…. On Friday night there were no big trucks. None at all. We had an almost word-perfect run of the play and the cast was so into the story we were telling, and I think it was the best we’ve done yet on this play. The audience was large. And the audience was moved. They laughed a lot (at some points we expected the laughter, at others the laughter we expected didn’t come, and sometimes the audience started laughing for seemingly no reason). But the audience was also moved in the opposite direction. During the last scene of The Diary of Anne Frank, Mr. Frank tells how he found out about the deaths of all the people who hid in the attic hiding place. Even backstage the cast could hear a few sniffles. The senior who plays Mr. Frank is so awesome for the part–and he moves everyone–even himself and the cast, who have heard the ending many times before.
After curtain call, as we talked to the audience, they were full of praise. I believe it was Nick G., who plays Mr. Frank, who told me that going down and talking to random audience members is the most difficult part of the play. I can tell you, it was a real lesson in taking praise graciously.
What I didn’t expect was how much I learned after curtain call. For example, I learned:
- How to say “Thank you!” and give a big smile.
- How to nod and smile when a person keeps talking.
- How to hug strangers and random audience members. (“Oh, I’m [the make-up artist's] grandma, and I just thought…”)
- How to say “Thank you” again and … still … smile …
- How to repeat the same phrases over and over again (to different people). I have a bit about how the end of the play makes me choke up every time I hear it. And when I hear, “How did you ever memorize all that?” Or “How do you keep all that up there in your head?” Or ” I didn’t realize until halfway through that those monologue bits were live and not recorded. How did you manage that?” I repeat the same phrasing about how, from the moment I got the script, I took it with me everywhere and studied it. If I had 5 minutes, or one, or 30 seconds, or 5 seconds, I’d look over my lines.
My smiles were genuine the entire time people were gushing at me about my role as Anne in the play. I was (and am) happy about opening night. But after a while I just wished to stop smiling, go somewhere by myself or be mostly alone in some corner, and quietly think about all the events of opening night.
In some ways, all that praise from so many different people scares me. I tend to shy away from praise because I seek and enjoy praise. I’m afraid of becoming proud and conceited. But my habitual avoidance of praise, I’ve noticed, can lead to arrogance. A recent definition I saw of arrogance said that arrogance is not being able to accept praise when it is deserved–and I do that sometimes. The opening night of the play has taught me accept praise more graciously.
And the whole experience of being involved in the high school play has taught me a lot. What are some learning times (where you’ve had to work hard, but the labor was enjoyable) that you have had?