A funny thing has happened to me over the past few weeks. I think I may have started to... relax. A little bit. If you know me at all, this may be somewhat alarming for you to hear. Let me explain. I came into rehearsals for this production extremely nervous. My thoughts would fluctuate every single second of rehearsals, sounding something like, “Holy crap, look at the cast! Holy crap, look at that production team! Oh crap, look at me… No, don’t look at me! I’m not ready, I’m not prepared!” I’ve been that way for a while - always worrying I’m not working hard enough, or maybe I’m working too hard and I’m forcing something. These thoughts are, to say the least, annoying. It wasn’t until runs of the show started that I was finally able to get my thoughts together and come to a somewhat relieving realization.
Being in a Shakespeare piece, something that happens to be around four hundred years old... It starts to put things into perspective. After weeks of worrying, I’ve come to learn something: This is all so much bigger than me. This production is so much bigger; this play is so much bigger. And I have two choices: (1) I can worry about how unprepared I feel, and pace and fret backstage before every single scene, because of who might be watching tonight and what they might think of me. Or (2) at some point I can accept my place in this world and give it all up to something bigger. And I do mean the world of the play… mostly.
In the world of this play, I’m a servant to Timon. In “real life,” I work in a restaurant, refilling water glasses and polishing utensils and glassware for people who have a lot more money than I do… Not so different from what I’m doing in the play, I suppose. So it really shouldn’t be that hard to relate. Of course, the stakes are a little higher. Okay, a lot higher. But it’s not my job to force those stakes on the audience. My role in relation to this production and this play is also somewhat the servant. It is my job to hold the door and hopefully not get in the way.
This play is much older than any of us, and its message much stronger than anything I could try and play at on the stage, or type here for you now. It’s already profound enough, without my trying to ad to it. So instead, why not give it to you simply? Why not just hold the door open, and let you walk in yourself? There are very few points in the show when the focus is actually on me. And that is a HUGE relief. Seriously. At this moment in my life, it is completely relieving and enjoyable to offer the heavy lifting to other people, and just be there to fill the wine, so to speak.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying my role is insignificant. In fact, I mean just the opposite. If there’s anything I’ve learned throughout this process, it is that everyone is essential. And I mean everyone. It is a truly wonderful thing to be a tiny cog in a big, beautiful machine. Working as part of the apprentice company has been incredibly eye opening, and it has taught me that every little bit helps. The people at the PAC are not afraid to ask. And that’s a comforting thing. It’s kind of nice to be asked, isn’t it? It is. Honestly, it is nice to feel needed. It is a very good feeling to know you’re helping a company of people you believe in, and know you wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.
So, that brings us back to the play. Someone’s got to say these lines and fill these wine glasses. And if that means getting to be a part of the telling of this great story, lifting up this text to a new audience every single night… then Sign. Me. Up. I will hold all the doors and fill all the glasses in the world to just be in the room every night and be a small part of that experience.
But really, no matter the size of the role, I think that will always remain true. With what we do, there comes a certain responsibility. And that responsibility can be frightening at times. But I think it’s helpful to remember that it’s not just my responsibility. I am one of many people united in telling this story. At some point, all of us must admit to ourselves and accept that we are simply serving a greater message, a greater purpose. And we can find true comfort in that. So with that, I walk into the theater tonight and hold the door open for you. Come and listen to this story. And hopefully I won’t spill wine on you.
PAC Acting Apprentice