Tomorrow is one of two days I dread most each year. Call-backs for the next play. We've had auditions and now I'm having each student come back to read for specific roles from the play.
I really dislike this part of my job. In a way, it's exciting to see the final cast list emerge. It's very obvious who should play each role--only on very rare occasions is there any doubt.
The difficulty is not in discerning who should be in which roles, but knowing how disappointed and hurt some of the kids will be. Yes, it's part of life. Yes, it's the way theatre goes. Yes to all the disclaimers and provisos one can add. But I still hate it.
I imagine that a nurse who gives a baby a shot understands that the shot is beneficial--but I assume (I hope) that the nurse still flinches a bit at the thought of inflicting a bit of pain on a baby--even when it's well-intentioned and healthy in the long run.
That's how I feel. It is difficult for me to express how much I love my students and how deeply I care for them. Being the agent of disappointment--especially when I know the sting of that disappointment from my own time as a performer--is hard.
There will be parents who grumble, complain, and shun me. Meh. That's not exactly pleasant, but my emotional skin is pretty well calloused to that sort of thing and I don't lose sleep over it.
But the thought of my students being hurt or disappointed--that I do lose sleep over.
Painful though it is, this process reminds me of something each time I go through it. I have learned that I cannot make a student into a leading role, no matter how badly I want them to have it. No matter how much I love them and am rooting for them, there is no way I can make someone into Dorothy or Annie or Tevye if they aren't qualified. They either are or they aren't. I'm the judge and have the final say, but really, all I do is validate and make de facto what is de jure. The student is either ready and able or not and all I do is recognize the level of their ability. I have a feeling that this is fairly close to the final judgment. God will not judge us, as much as recognize, and help us see, who we are and who we have become by the choices we've made and the things we've done.
I add to that one further observation. There are a very few students who are brilliantly talented and simply get leading roles based on their brilliance. But that is exceedingly rare. Usually, kids who get the big roles are kids who have worked hard for years. They've taken lessons and gone to camps. They've been in other plays and they've honed their talents through time, experience, and instruction. This combination is hard to beat. Another important lesson, I think.
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