…except for when it doesn’t.
During today’s tech run-through of Tales of Hoffman, I was in a stage fight that went wrong. New traffic patterns had to occur now that we were on the actual stage which we weren’t aware of and I was collided into by a fellow cast mate who was running across the stage. With the wind knocked out of me, an injured shoulder, and a majorly bumped head, I faltered for a moment before they called a 5-minute break to allow me to catch my breath. Unfortunately, dropping my character made me realize how much pain I was in and I instantly burst into tears on the stage. Embarrassed, I struggled to pull myself together so that we could fix the staging issues. Which we did. It was a learning process for all of us and these things happen to even the most experienced performer. This was nothing compared to the time when my foot was stomped on during a performance and I had to finish out the scene as I felt blood pooling in my shoe. At least this time it was a rehearsal! That’s show biz for you!
But, with an injured shoulder and a massive headache, my primary concern was the aria concert I was scheduled to sing in that evening. I could stumble myself through the the remainder of the staging rehearsal, but I was worried about my ability to perform well in concert when my body was still in shock. As we broke for lunch, I began to head to the practice rooms to check in on my voice for the concert, but the music director caught me and checked in. Explaining to her my concerns about the concert, tears began to well up in my eyes once again as she told me I should back out of the performance. Deep down, I knew she was right; but I am not one to cancel at the last minute. A mixture of guilt, frustration, and sadness (and, let’s face it, trauma) began to surge inside of me as I grappled with contacting the festival director. But then I took a breath, let those feelings subside, and reminded myself that my health and well-being are more important that one single aria performance.
In the end, it all worked out and I moved my aria performance to a later date. Sometimes we have to weigh the costs verses the benefits and let go of small performances in favor of general health and longevity for the larger productions. The show must go on, but sometimes it has to go on without you. That doesn’t make you any less of a performer. It just makes you human.