The Night Before Opening ...
It's the night before the opening of a Midsummer Night's Dream. I have the awesome gift and responsibility of playing Oberon, King of the Fairies.
It's the first Shakespearean play that I've performed in since I played Macbeth four years ago.
I'll tell you that I'm exhausted. I'm so tired I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to sleep right away. I'll also tell you that I'm scared. So very scared. It's the first time I've performed somebody else's words in what feels like forever. What wonderfully old and powerful words there are in this play. Poetry that that's so rich and so layered and so full of possibilities that it thrums with power. When I say those words, the worry in my soul quiets, and I'm in awe of their power.
I'm scared that I've gotten too old, too fat, too ugly, and that my memory is going and I'll forget a word or a sentence or a cue. I'm scared that I won't be able to convey all that delicious meaning. I'm frightened people won't laugh. Fearful that people will hate me and throw things at me, or, worse, tell me it was nice, all the while anxiously looking at their watch, and wondering how long they'll have to talk to me before they can escape to where they can make fun of me in private.
It's the night before opening, and all that crappy stuff is running through my head.
But holding back the craziness is the certainty that, in about 22 1/2 hours, the lights will come up, the music will play and the magic of the theater will lift me up. I'll be able to live my time as the King of the Fairies. I'll get to have a grand old time with my best friend, Puck. I'll fight with and love Titania, my Queen and the most beautiful fairy in the world. I'll get to cast spells on the helpless lovers, laugh at their foibles and then put them all back together again, and they will live happily ever after. For 2+ hours, I'll be immortal and I'll be powerful. My feet, my elbows, my back and my head won't hurt, and I won't be tired. I'll laugh, rage, joke and live those words that come bubbling up from Oberon's soul. For a bit, I'll be perfect.
It's the night before opening, and the air is pregnant with tomorrow's magic, and life is beautiful.