I’ve been toting a four-inch thick three-ring binder everywhere with me these days. It contains the script and vocal score of the production of The Secret Garden I’m directing for a local community theatre group. I’ve been spending my lunch break pouring over my script and it has attracted some attention. Some coworkers sit elsewhere assuming I’d like to be left alone but others ask about it. I really don’t mind either way. I do most of my work at home but if I can block a page or two in the break room it is just a little bonus for me. If I’m interrupted, that’s fine too. I’m as eager to talk about my show as a grandparent showing off pictures of their newest grandchild.
One of my coworkers caught my eye as I was pulling the binder out of my locker the other day. “How’s your show going?” she asked me.
“It’s going really well,” I told her.
“I bet it’s really stressful,” she said.
I thought for a moment and said, “You know, it really isn’t.”
I’m definitely under stress. It’s no easy trick to juggle a show, my blog, my family, my home, and my job. But the show itself isn’t particularly stressful. It seems like it ought to be—doesn’t it? I have a cast of thirty actors (some of them children), plus stage parents, plus crew and a thousand decisions to be made. How high should this platform be? How white should Lily’s costume be? Do we want floor microphones or stand microphones? Would my character touch his character? What color should the flowers in the garden be? What should the clouds on the backdrop look like? Can I get a haircut? Do I have to shave my beard? Should we go out for a beer after rehearsal? Obviously, some decisions are easier than others.
I listen to these and a thousand other questions at each rehearsal and production meeting. I get them as e-mails and text messages and on my Facebook wall. Do they stress me out? Nope. They are like oxygen. I am back in my element and I have missed it. I can be exhausted from dealing with customers and helping my children with their homework and getting dinner on the table. But the moment I start working with the cast, I am invigorated.
Managing to get everything done—that’s stressful. Helping the boys with homework while making dinner and realizing I am missing a single key ingredient to every dish I can think of because I didn’t get to the grocery store—that’s stressful. Trying to make lunches for the kids to take for school while I’m making breakfast because I was too tired to do the night when I got home from rehearsal—that’s stressful. Running out the door on a Friday to work a night shift and saying goodbye to my husband whom I have hardly seen all week—that’s stressful. Coming up with a really great idea for a blog post and not having time to write it down—that’s stressful. But the show? Not stressful.
I am blessed to be working with a cast and crew that is not only talented, but thoughtful, hardworking and dedicated as well. There is not one prima donna among them. The stress of juggling it all would no doubt be too much without my remarkably supportive family. My husband has helped out in a thousand ways both small (like encouraging me to nap on Saturdays) and large (like taking on the Cub Scouts). He is there with an encouraging word and the occasional cocktail at the end of the night. The boys don’t quite understand why theatre is so important to me yet. But someday they’ll find something they are truly passionate about and they’ll understand. Unless they don’t. Now that will be stressful.