Being on Stage Again Terrifies Me!
Yesterday in one of my Facebook groups, there was a casting request for a new show. The show is in 6 weeks and it is in person at a Comicon Convention. When I read the post, I had to stop and read it again. In person? Really? Are we there already? We can’t be. I read it again and I guess we are there. WOAH! I receive my second dose of the vaccine next week, so according to medical experts, I CAN play at the June show. But then my mind flashed back to in person shows…
How will I ever be able to do shows like these? And in June? Can we touch? Should we touch? Will we be able to sing together? What’s it going to feel like? So many questions but with each question, I could feel my stomach turning more and more. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be on stage again… SOMEDAY! But I’m not sure if I’m ready for someday to arrive.
I don’t miss performing because I have been blessed to perform with virtual teams throughout the last year. Doing improv online in your own home is more than just safety from a virus for me. It brings me comfort, joy, confidence and the ability to challenge myself by playing with people all over the world. I have learned so much and am constantly learning with each new scene. What do we name people? Is yes and really important? Are characters or relationships more satisfying? What’s my character’s backstory? I don’t have the answers to those questions because with each online improv moment, those things might change. I love the flexibility. I love doing improv at any hour of the day. And I don’t have to wear PANTS!
What I do miss is the AUDIENCE and the ENERGY you get from live performances. I love pre-show warm ups, dinners and rituals. I love after show notes and drinks. But most of all, I love feeling the audience respond to my choices and cheer me on. And while I love to perform to a full house, I know that I live in a country where many people will chose not to vaccinate. Am I putting myself at risk? I have a history of upper respiratory issues including pnuemonia. I know my immune system is easily compromised and that terrifies me.
I’m not sure that I am ready to return to the real world of performing just yet. I have been teaching in person since June 1st at the studio where I work to small classes of 8 or less. My students are screened, masked and even social distance on stage. I remain at the back of the classroom far away from my students as I instruct. That feels safe. But being on stage with a scene partner without a mask feels as risky as driving without a seat belt. I know it shouldn’t but it does.
I decided not to sign up and perform but then FOMO set it. What would I be missing? I won’t know the inside jokes and show references? I won’t get to share a scene with performers I adore. Performers who I have played with for over 6 years and not scene in person in 14 months. But I know that I won’t be able to get out of my head and give them what they need and expect from me on stage.