What I Did for Love

by adriafi1 on March 7, 2011

Over 30 years ago I stepped onstage as a dazzled ten year old, eager for my first sprinkling of stardust.  Years later I was teary eyed and choking on the glitter that rained to beautiful visual effect on Act IV of Carmen in the Canary Islands. How remarkable that although I know full well that the glamor is minimal and the work Herculean, I’m still enchanted by the bewitching world of theater.

My caveat to you as an aspiring performer is that you do not run to the stage as a refuge from life or as a source of love – it is neither. No matter how expert we become at escaping the reality of our lives, eventually we become stuck in our own denial.  We are doomed to recreate, consciously or un — the situations that will eventually force us to face what we do not wish to see in our lives.

As for love – yes, applause is an aphrodisiac for the ego – but it lasts an instant.  We are as good, and as desired, as our last performance.  As performers we are all replaceable –“the show must go on.’  Even the most polished performer loses point and reflexes when resting comfortably on their laurels.  A 3-masted sailing vessel was built to sail forth and risk the elements, not sot in port; so it is with any artist worth their salt.

The “love” offered in this business of ours is not real.  Elaine Stritch quoted Noel Coward as saying: “One of my deepest fears in this business is that you are only loved for what you can do.” AP NY 10/27/99 It is my observation that as Virginia Woolfe said “the artist minds excessively what is said about him.”  Yes, we do.  We are enormously sensitive or we wouldn’t have chosen this demanding art form.  There is love present in our work, but it is the incomparable joy of honing your craft until it soars with effortlessness.  The love too, is inherent in every interaction with your colleagues: fellow cast members, wardrobe & makeup people, techies, stage management, props people, pianists, orchestra & chorus members.  Do you think we create all of this magic by ourselves? No indeed, it is polished teamwork that beguiles an audience into another world.

We artists delve more deeply into the human heart; we risk more, are more in touch with our emotions, and have the sublime possibility of illuminating something magnificent.  We can illuminate a moment in time that captures a common human emotion and translate it into live theater.

No matter how technically advanced we become there is nothing more exciting that live theater, an arena where the creative spirit battles with the lions of fear – the roar of the crowd egging us on to new heights.  And when the Muse is kind, for a brief moment, the fire of artistic genius captures and communicates the heart of truth – the bare, naked, trembling heart of all humanity.

We are all the same – no matter our race, religion, customs or politics.  We all want to be loved and appreciated, we all need to eat to survive, and we all need shelter. The artist’s curse and the artist’s privilege is that he is driven to translate those common desires and needs into that elusive thing called art.

If you are driven by such a desire, prepare yourself not only for the joy of creation, but for the pain of a refining fire that by virtue of it’s intense heat will ultimately, if you allow it (for we always have choice), refine your very being.

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