Our play opens on Thursday, and we are now in an intense stage of panic, sleep deprivation, and frayed nerves. Last night I came home in a foul mood from an especially frustrating rehearsal. Bill had already gone to bed (it was after 11:00), but Ben was still up. "How did it go?" he asked.
"Horrible. Even the parts we thought we had down are falling apart. We're dropping lines and then getting lost in the script, skipping whole chunks of dialogue. Which may be a blessing since the play is running way too long, but we do want it to make sense. And then we've changed the blocking so many times that we're all doing different versions, and knocking into each other. I'm so tired I got lost in midtown today, and fell asleep waiting for rehearsal to start."
"In my experience," he said, "it always feels like this, and then somehow it all pulls together at the end." I was touched by his desire to comfort me. At this point, he has considerably more performance experience than I do, so I also listened to him with genuine interest.
He told me a few stories about near misses his band had experienced, as well as complete failures he had witnessed which were nevertheless exciting and engaging. "That's what's so great about live performance," he said. "You can't fake it, you can't edit out the mistakes." The performing arts are the most terrifying of the art forms, we agreed, but they carry their unique rewards.
I went to bed feeling comforted, not only by the pep talk, but by the role reversal. I remembered counseling him through similar stresses when he was younger; reminding him that investing ourselves and taking risks can be worthwhile in itself regardless of the outcome. It is nice to know he took it in, and can now give it back with such conviction.
This morning I have been imagining him as a father, comforting his kids when they lose a ball game or fail a test. I think he will be great, frankly. And I'm privileged to have him practice on me.