Ann Hoye

Standing in darkness, a single light hitting you.  Theatre exists in quiet corners, slowly filling the void of silence with laughter and tears.  A place to go for comfort and fulfillment, a warm hug when the outdoors come back with a bite that will leave a mark; black, blue, purple.

Theatre is walking up to the paper stuck on the wall of beige and agreeing to never see the sunlight after today.  A name next to a number, a name next to a time.  And then you prepare.  Be vulnerable, be concise, be energetic, be you, but don’t show yourself unless you have the motivation to.  Theatre is walking into the room with the dark curtains and the light walls, a table of judges and peers who will observe you and critique you and hope you do everything they want.  Leave with a smile, hiding any flaws you may have noticed.  And wait.  A day.  Or two.  Maybe more if they aren’t sure where you fit.

Theatre is receiving a text or a notification that confirms how far you go on.  Theatre is scanning the google doc, skipping over the opening paragraphs and jumping to the names, counting how many times you’re mentioned.  And then prepare once again.  Print out the words and know them.  Add yourself to each page and make sure everything is perfect.  You need them to want you.  And then you’re back in the room, now filled with people that are trying to advertise themselves as the product the judges will want to buy.  Stay there, giving up the seconds of the warm day, trapped inside a room that feels like it’s slowly suffocating you.  Hours by hours pass, and slowly the people leave, unneeded for the rest of the night.  Unsure if leaving early is a blessing or a curse.

Theatre is waiting.  And waiting.  Waiting.  Waiting. Waiting.  In reality, it’s been a day.  But the anxiety and the stress causes you to feel like your whole world has been pushed into a time machine, the seconds turning into hours, your stomach twisting with dread every time your phone bings.  Theatre is trying to distract yourself from the fact that a single google doc could change your schedule for the next few months.  Theatre is knowing that there were people who were better than you in that room, that you couldn’t possibly do what they were doing, praying that maybe you’ll get at least a small role, and–

Theatre is your hands shaking as you pick up your phone.  Your heart drops into your stomach and you can feel it thudding against your ribs.  This is it.  Seeing the words on the google classroom.  “CAST LIST!!! Congratulations to all who auditioned!  Please fully read ALL information in this document.”  You can only hear ringing in your ears.  You force yourself to read the paragraphs at the top this time.  Skimming the rules and the expectations, you reach the names.  And you see it.  You see it!  Your name in big bold letters.  Your cheeks feel warm and damp from the tears that have slid down your face from the relief and pure bliss that courses through your body.

Theatre is showing up the next day, back in the claustrophobic space that suddenly feels like the wide milky way.  Practice and practice and memorize.  Learn everything and more by heart.  Get ready for the laughter and tears during the longest weeks of your life.  Be prepared for that one night where you push yourself a bit too hard, and bite back the pain as you feel your feet lose their grip on the cliff you’re standing over.  Wake up with bruises and get ready to do it again.  Put on a dress and curl your hair and hope your microphone doesn’t fall off halfway through your monologue.  Theatre is being able to push yourself through the rough spot you’re in and act with your body, mind, and soul.  Ignore what happened outside of the world you’re in now and focus on the eyes of the person next to you, brown or blue or maybe even green if the light hits them right.  Theatre is standing in the warmth of the spotlight and feeling your stress slowly slip off and away.  Putting everything into this one scene and then running off stage, the cool shadow a protection from the bright lights.  Theatre is taking your final bow and realizing that it’s over.  That that’s the last time you’ll perform the same show with the same people.  The crushing real-world hitting you and pulling you from your dream-like trance.  Wanting to run back on stage and tell the audience “wait, it’s not over!  You can’t leave yet!  We have more for you!”

Theatre is walking into the cold night air and receiving hugs and flowers, taking pictures with makeup melting, and finally heading back inside to grab your things.  Theatre is closing the dressing room door, arms full and heart heavy, and heading back outside to go home.  Theatre is the love you feel for the art, despite the pain you receive back from it.  No matter how many times it pushes you down, theatre is the act of standing and approaching whatever might come next with a brave face and open arms.