“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world” – Meik Wiking (CEO of the Happiness Research Institute)
Many years ago, ‘I can’t I’ve got rehearsals’ became the unofficial mantra for my community-based musical society. We would perform in two or three shows per year. Rehearse Monday, Wednesday and Sunday. Combine that with working bees, publicity days, Bunnings BBQ, Committee meetings, sub-Committee meetings, bump-in, bump-out and cast related social events – there was not much time left. How I fit in a day job as well is beyond me. There was also the thought – maybe I can do two or three productions at once… Is there time for that? Absolutely.
I was born into the world of community theatre. My grandparents were in theatre as are my parents and siblings. I met my wife in theatre and my children are now involved. This level of busy is what I’ve always known. Many of my non-theatre friends are amazed how much can be fit into a standard theatrical week.
Then, of course, there was the emotional roller coaster of constantly being tired, missing your other friends (if indeed you still had any), and trying to remember what your family looked like. You would make a connection with a group of people. You would rehearse together and perform together. A couple of weeks of maniacal Go Go Go! Then when the curtain goes down on closing night – you would never see that same group of people ever again. You dust yourself off and excitedly but exhaustedly move on to the next one…
So…why do I do this to myself?
Why do I embrace this ongoing cycle of exhaustion and mania?
Basically, I love musical theatre. Always have. Always will. I’m not the type of guy who will immerse myself into the latest and greatest musical. However, what I will do is immerse myself into the community of theatre.
I am at my happiest when I am connected with other people. It recharges my batteries and makes me feel alive. I have yet to discover a more powerful way to fulfil my want for friendship and community than musical theatre.
I believe that the spirit of cooperation and trust in community theatre is no coincidence. We’re all in this together. Performing in front of an audience can be exhilarating. Without trust in your fellow performers and cooperation with the crew and production team it would be downright terrifying.
I’m not a leading player. I usually refer to my stage position as third row from the front a little bit to the left. I didn’t join musical theatre because of my level of talent. Don’t get me wrong I can (sort-of) sing, (sort-of) dance and (sort-of) act. I can prat-fall with the best of them.
I love the comradery. I go to the working bees, bump-ins, bump-outs, Bunnings BBQ’s. First to arrive and last to leave. I go the pub after rehearsal for a debrief and good conversation. Even if it’s just one other person – I’ll go.
Within 6 months of joining the society, I was on the Committee and 22 years later am still there. I joined the Committee because I saw this as a way of helping people. By being on Committee not only could I get involved with their hopes and dreams but also assist with their struggles. Helping can be a mixed bag. At times I get to celebrate the victories and you can get hurt from time to time. That’s life. Theatre can be a wicked mistress in that way.
Helping people has given me a sense of purpose. I have seen first hand that I have made my community happier. My trust in others has increased and I’d like to think as has their trust in me. My skills have improved, and I have met many new, wonderful people who have turned into great friends.
Theatre is a great way of seeing the results of the hard work whether you are on stage or not. The applause is for everyone involved not just the performers.
Yes. Musical Theatre can be exhausting and time consuming. It’s more like a part-time job than a hobby – especially if you’re on the Committee.
In spite of it all, I keep coming back, season after season, show after show, because deep down, I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Until next time, be Fantastix!