And so, as with all good things, the run of Over the Tavern has come to an end. I have been asked repeatedly how I feel about it, usually with something that goes a little like, “Wow! I’ll bet you’re ready for this to be done and for life to get back to normal, huh?”
Well, while I am thrilled that I now have the time to see my husband and my children—who I have missed whole-heartedly—and am excited to get my home back into some semblance of an organized routine, the answer has been a resounding, “No.” I’m not ready to go back to life as I knew it a few months ago.
First of all, there is that pesky “reality” to which I am returning. Let’s be honest, there has been a whole lot of reality that I have missed out on in the last few weeks…sort of like going on vacation. We are in the middle of a remodeling project that has kept my amazing husband—who is a saint, by the way—from doing much more than minimal housekeeping and childrearing duties in an effort to get the project finished as quickly as possible. Let me reiterate…he is a Superman in my eyes, but there is so much dirty laundry in our house right now that I’m surprised any of us have anything to wear. It’s true…running a household is much less fun in real life than it is on stage.
Second, as part of this experience, there are some things about me that have changed. I am in the process of going back to focusing all my attention on what I was doing before this experience without the distraction of the production process: work, being an organized wife and mother, finishing up our remodeling project, decluttering our house, and laundry…have I mentioned the laundry? But, I’m no longer the same person that I was when this process began almost three months ago. I spent many years building up walls in order to do what I do every day and those walls had to be broken down in order for me to do what I had to do on stage. Now, I am having some difficulty reconciling that Laura with this Laura that I have rediscovered.
Don’t get me wrong…I love my life. I love my job and my family. I just want to love them with the same fullness of joy I rediscovered from the stage—a joy that isn’t deadened by those walls that I worked so hard to build. And, I want to find a way to work performing back into my life on an occasional basis. As part of this process, I found parts of myself that had long been buried and I am not prepared to, nor am I willing to, bury them again.
Here’s my analogy: It’s as though, once upon a time, I had a great color TV that was stolen and I could only replace it with a black and white model. I still enjoyed watching TV and, initially, missed watching in color. Eventually, however, I got used to it and even sort of forgot what color TV was like. It was good enough; I was happy enough. I convinced myself that color was a luxury for other people and I didn’t truly need it to be happy. Then, one day, I came home to find a new color TV in the old one’s place and—oh, happy day!—it was bigger and in HD. At that point, I couldn’t believe I’d spent all those years watching TV in fuzzy black and white and couldn’t imagine not seeing things in full, high-definition color for the rest of my life. But, with this realization comes a new fear. What if this new TV disappears as well? What if I am forced to pull the old black and white out of the closet and fool myself into believing it’s good enough for another 14 years?
This leads me to other question I have been asked: “Will you be auditioning again?”
This role was a gift that has now disappeared and can never be replaced. What if I never, ever, in my whole life receive a gift like that again? And, now that I want it so badly, will I be able to stand the heartache of auditioning again?
And then, I realized why I stopped performing. It wasn’t just that my life was busy; I became afraid of auditioning and failing. They say it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. I think that it has been easy for me to believe that it is better to avoid getting my hopes get too high. It became easier for me to pretend I didn’t want to perform than it was for me to risk failing. This audition process was easy. I didn't know how badly I truly wanted this role or this show and, to be honest, I never, in a million years, thought I stood a chance of getting them.
In preparing to wrap this up, I re-read my previous blog posts and a common thread was how much trouble I have making myself vulnerable. I don’t like to show chinks in my armor; I don’t like to open myself up to failure. And, I will be the first to acknowledge that that fear of failure pervades every part of my life.
Maybe that is the greater lesson in all of this—one that I never expected to learn. In trying to avoid failure, I have lived a life of endless anxiety and lost so much joy. Maybe now is the time in my life to look that fear of failure square in the face. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the profound changes I experienced throughout this process continued to reverberate through the other aspects of my life?
Here at Lyric Arts we hear time and time again about the transformative power of the performing arts from people who take part in our productions. After years of working to create that experience for others, why shouldn’t I allow it to work for me?
At the risk of being a cliché—something I never seem to fear—I chose to end this entry by quoting Elphaba from the Broadway musical Wicked:
Something has changed within me. Something is not the same. I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game. Too late for second-guessing. Too late to go back to sleep. It's time to trust my instincts, Close my eyes…and leap!
(Pretty good stuff, huh?)
Finally, a huge thank you to the artistic staff (Joanna, Patrick, Brian, Shannon, Matt, and Bob) and the crew (Katie, Bob and Andrew) for making this such a magnificent experience.
And, to Justin, Molly, Noah, Alex, Alec, Valerie, Dan and Barb: I am missing the family we created together. Thank you all for never allowing me to take myself too seriously and for sharing your blood, sweat, and tears with me. No matter where we all go from here, please know (most sincerely) that you all hold a special place in my heart and that, should you ever need anything, you know where to find me.