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Tales of a Backstage Nothing

You haven't lived until you've experienced the madness of backstage. Crazed whispers, manic behavior, nausea, frantic searching for lost things in the dark... It's a total rush. Backstage isn't for the weak. Or the sane...

After 33 years of backstage experiences, I'd have to label myself as a bit of a "backstage professional". I'd like to say "I've seen it all..." but as soon as I say that, something absolutely insane will happen in our next performance and I don't want to jinx myself. So I'll say: "I've seen A LOT". I've dealt with fainters, vomiters, criers, exercisers, shakers... you name it. Performance nerves are brutal and backstage shows mercy to no one.

I wish I could say "I love being backstage!" but unfortunately, that wouldn't be true. I love watching actors. I love watching performers do what they do best. I love being swept away to faraway lands and taken on magical journeys that only the theater can take you on. When compared to the smell of sweat, feet and the occasional guacamole chips, I'm sure you can understand why backstage is not my first choice of places to enjoy the performance. The only moments that I get to connect with the exciting action on the stage are the tiny little peeks I get through the curtains:

As hard as it is to be in "the trenches" during a performance, there is definitely an upside here. While I may not get to see these students portray characters on stage, I DO get to see their REAL characters backstage. Girls helping each other with costume changes so they won't miss their cues, a group of teenage boys standing in a circle praying for the production in between scenes, encouraging hugs offered up to someone who's just messed up a line, pep talks between actors trying to control their jitters before their entrances... See what I mean? Beautiful characters. I don't get to see the acting, but I get to see the reality. And the reality is that these students are amazing human beings. And I love them madly.

Sometimes backstage is all "Hey.. ho..! Go Macie, it's your birthday! Go Macie, it's your birthday..!" and sometimes it's this instead:

Sometimes backstage runs smoothly. And sometimes, instead, you are sitting on a chair with a giant, heavy 15 year old laying on your lap while you flush out his eye with water because he's got something in it and he has to be on stage in 1 1/2 minutes. Sometimes everything runs calmly backstage. And sometimes, you are hugging, holding and rocking someone while singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in their ear to calm their emotional meltdown.

Sometimes, you have to madly pin up a torn skirt, lay hands on someone who can't stop coughing, restring beads onto a broken necklace in 30 seconds, hand feed fainty students because they can't get their gloves dirty, catch vomit in a bag before it hits the floor and then convince the person they can overcome their nerves, generate laughs in the midst of tears, lay on your stomach under stairs and whisper lines, get props on stage that were forgotten or make an apron out of a piece of material and a stapler because it went missing 3 minutes before a cue.

Sometimes backstage is everything you were afraid of it being. But even in those moments, you are thankful because you get to come face to face with students wearing their hearts on their sleeves. You get to love, comfort, encourage and be the light in the literal darkness. You get to see what people are really made of. And our Spotlight teens are made out of... "all the good stuff".

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