I just finished the last round of auditions for our winter play, The Wizard of Oz. In a sense, I love auditions, while in another, I hate them. I love them because they are very exciting. I'm scrupulous about not pre-casting, or even flirting with it in my mind. I've learned over the years that I never get it right if I do that. There are always surprises--someone who shows up that I didn't know, or knew but hadn't envisioned in a certain part. This student gets up and magic happens and it's like the clouds part and a ray of light illuminates them while angelic choirs sing and it's clear to everyone that this student is the right fit.
Fit, after all, is important. I know a lot of great people who are fantastic individuals, but would not fit well together as a married couple. I know smart kids who would not fit well at every university. Will Smith and Will Ferrell are both highly paid actors, but wouldn't fit in every role.
Talented kids don't alway fit every role either, and it's exciting when it does happen. There's a surge of energy in the room and I think the kids there can all feel it, too.
That's the fun part. I hate and dread it because of the emotional baggage. There is a lot of disappointment involved. It hurts not to get a part you want. I've been there many times, so I know how it feels, and I really hate being the one to inflict that hurt on others. Especially kids. Especially kids of whom I am sincerely fond. But, that's life. We don't get anything good or worthwhile without some struggle and disappointment.
Sometimes the parents make it really bad and cause lots of drama. Happily, that wasn't the case this time and all disappointment was handled maturely, or at least privately. Which was nice for me, and ultimately, much, much healthier for the kids.
Are you still reading? My goodness, you are a charitable soul. I know this is kind of rambling, but it's been a big part of my life--perhaps the pre-eminent part of my life for the last three weeks so I'm decompressing.
Two days ago I had auditions for the lower school kids. 100 of the cutest, sweetest little kids you've seen tried out. They all make it, of course. I'll talk more about that another time. But after their quick little audition, reading a poem or singing a few lines of a song, I thank them and tell them I'd like them to be in the play. They'll be munchkins or Emerald Citizens or something, but the way their faces light up, you'd think they were getting multi-million dollar contracts to star on Broadway. Smiles, hugs, shouts and leaps for joy--it warms my stone-cold heart with a deep and comforting glow. My favorite thing is when they try to keep a straight face with me, and then go out into the hall and burst out in a shout, "I MADE IT!"
Anyway, it occurs to me that these little ones who are so thrilled to be Munchkin #79 have possibly discovered the secret to happiness. They went in with few expectations. They didn't feel entitled to something big. Consequently, they were thrilled with what they got. They are happy and grateful just to be in the play.
I think there's a lesson there for marriages, families, careers, and life in general: try for Dorothy, but if it doesn't work, embrace and celebrate your Munchkinness!
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