The following is a record of a conversation I had with my roommate on Tuesday, October 18, 2016:
—I have to write a blog post tonight and I have nothing to say.
-What does it have to be about?
—Theatre. Where I meet the world of theatre.
-And you don’t think you have anything to write about? Are you kidding?
—Do I have something to write about?
-Jen, you’re in a show. Write about the show you’re in.
—Well yeah, but…
—It’s a musical. I’m in the ensemble. All I do is dance.
-And that’s not theatre?
—I mean, I know it’s theatre but it’s not like, theeeeeatre.
-What, because you’re not in a black box getting deep about whatever?
—I don’t know, it doesn’t seem legit enough. All these people are making crazy good, groundbreaking theatre and talking about museum dance pieces and I’m supposed to write about tap dancing?
-Yes. No offense here, but get over yourself.
At this moment I realized I had FALLEN INTO THE TRAP!
It was only a few weeks ago that I blogged about feeling like I had to find my voice in the theatre. I spent all day today going to theatre classes, listening to, processing, generating, and sharing ideas about theatre. I spent my free time writing about theatre. Today I thought about how happy I am that I chose to study English because of how it influences the way I meet theatre. I went to rehearsal for a musical. My entire day has been filled with theatre. Yet, when I sit down to respond to the theatre world, I feel inadequate.
I fell into the trap. We all know what the fall feels like: it’s a slow, sinking feeling that starts when the negativity spinning in your brain pushes downward into your chest, making your heart beat faster as it falls into your gut, and you get just a little queasy as you convince yourself that you’re just not [fill in the blank] enough.
Tonight, I fell into a trap that told me I am not an active enough member of the theatre community. That’s true, but it doesn’t mean that I am a totally inactive member of the theatre community.
I’m making a conscious effort here to climb out of the trap, and to be honest about where I am meeting the theatre world right now, however shallow that point may be. Bear with me, because the climb takes a lot of positivity and I express positivity in exclamation points!
I am in a musical! The musical is called Anything Goes and it features wonderful songs by Cole Porter!
“I Get a Kick Out of You!” “Blow Gabriel, Blow!” “It’s De-Lovely!” “Anything Goes!”
I grew up with this music and I think of my grandparents every time I go to rehearsal and hear these songs!
There is a good chance I was only cast in this show because I can tap dance! But hey, at least I can tap dance! I love it! There is literally nothing in the whole world that makes me happier than tap dancing to classic musical theatre!
This show is outdated and definitely not progressive and no one in the audience will be profoundly impacted, except that it might spread some joy. My grandparents are 90 years old and they are travelling 450 miles to see this show because it makes them happy to hear people sing about love and tap around like they don’t have a care in the world. I am proud to be a part of that—to know that I might help to make someone smile for an hour in November.
My roommate was right. There has to be a place for Anything Goes in my conception of the theatre world. If not, then where do my grandparents fit in? Surely they deserve to see theatre that moves them just as much as the educated-liberal-20-year-old does? And who am I to determine that a student production of Anything Goes isn’t profound enough to deserve a discussion? You never know who will be impacted by your work, even if your work is just a series of flaps and shuffles.
I bet Lin Manuel knows his Cole Porter.