Theater was my outlet. Structured creativity. Other people's words, other people's sets, other people's concepts and directions. But my passion and my imagination, clothed in the temporary shell of one of the characters on stage.
Days spent in classes and studying; nights in the company of my fellow actors and actresses. Living and breathing the lines, our real personas and our faux personas mixing and blending, even on the weekends after practice was over, while we sat around someone's apartment on borrowed furniture in black thrift store clothes listening to the new REM, or an old vinyl. Maybe Outlandos d'Amour by the Police. Or the Violent Femmes.
You became inseparable as cast and crew. As close as any family, aware of every heartache and heartbreak, every frustration and every hope. As the rehearsals progressed, you felt the collective buzz, the collective heartbeat, pulsing as the story came to life. The rush of opening night, the response of the audience, the energy as you ran backstage for a costume change, winding among your fellow thespians and stage hands moving furniture and carrying spare color gels.
Waking the next day and the next day, ready to give your character life again that night as the audience suspended their disbelief once more, listening for the ovation as the curtain closed.
Until the final curtain. The theater still vibrated from the fading echoes of the applause, and the laughter of cast and crew as they put things away for the last time. There were hugs and tears and kisses and laughter at the final cast party as you celebrated a job well done, laughed at your transgressions and improvisations, complimented your castmates on their raw emotions and flawless characterizations.
Until the final curtain.
When the next morning dawns, without a purpose or a plan, and the theater is empty and the janitor sweeps the stage and the posters come down and the costume closet is locked. And your emotions are a little shredded and you find yourself laughing at inappropriate times, and crying at others, and walking around in the silence feeling a little empty. Wondering if it was real. Knowing that you'll never be able to explain it to anyone who wasn't there, or wasn't a part of it. Feeling lost without your cast of characters around you.
It eventually passes. Slowly, surely, things fill the void. You talk with people and relive the scenes, and pull out the pictures and tell the stories.
But right then, when its over, it was just the letdown, the ache reminding you that you were part of something bigger.
But when you see that flyer . . . advertising the next auditions . . . your heart races . . . and you cross your fingers . . . and hope that you'll be a part of the next show.
* * * * *
Which reminds me . . . letdown or no letdown . . . I heart the WPBT.