Editor's Note: I meant to post about this earlier, but 3-day weekends have a tendency to make everything go wonky.
Over the weekend, Sam and I attended a local community theatre production of Little Women, based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott. As we walked back to our car after the show--dodging other drivers and trying not to freeze to death--it struck me just how much my relationship with theatre has changed over the years.
Ten years ago, my only real exposure to theatre was the productions our high school had performed and the occasional trip to Crown Uptown in Wichita. Had I seen this production then, I would have thought it fantastic and highly enjoyable, especially since it was based on one of my childhood-favorite novels.
Five years ago, I was on the verge of graduating from college with a bachelor's in theatre. Had I seen this production then, I would have spent the whole time picking apart the acting done in the show. While there were many splendid moments in the show, not all of the actors were strong throughout, and many of the character choices did not match the image I had in my head for the characters. Most likely I'd have attended with several of my fellow students, and we would have spent the next day ridiculing it to our classmates. Not because it was a bad show--because it wasn't--but because all of us at that time were very much theatre snobs, and would have insisted we could have done it better.
Two years ago, I had come to the decision that I needed to get away from theatre, at least for awhile. I'd injured myself during my latest gig, and was finding in myself a desire to settle down. During that time, though, I'd done multiple professional shows and seen Broadway/West End shows. This production of Little Women would never have registered on my radar, and had I seen it then, my focus would have entirely been upon all of the little technical slip ups--the dark spots on stage, the lamp that kept flickering in and out--as well as the mishaps with lines and entrances.
This weekend, however, I had what I consider now to be the better response. It actually made me happy. Yes, a part of me did notice the parts that weren't perfect. However, I had an absolute blast. It was fun for me to see people--many of whom were untrained for this--experiencing the joy of being on a stage and interacting with the energy of the audience. I loved all of the little details that were in the set design, and highly impressed with the period costumes that they'd managed to piece together. Overall, it was a very merry experience.
And I realized that this is what I missed about theatre, and why I had burned out. I missed the absolute joy that comes from creating a good story, and seeing people grow and do better. Having been away from it for the past couple of years, I was able to appreciate the way the whole community came together to enjoy what their local thespians had managed to put together to present to them.
More importantly, I came to the understanding that even if I never actually work in a theater again, I want to be that person who goes to the local plays, musicals, operas, concerts, and art shows. It may not be Broadway, the London Symphony Orchestra, or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it is still the arts, and still needs to be supported and cultivated.
It was a happy discovery.