Opening night was last night and, my goodness, I was so proud of those kids! It really went incredibly well. To the point I'm a bit nervous about tonight. To see these kids in all their adolescent glory--dealing with all the concerns and vexations and worries they have--out in front of everyone singing and dancing their hearts out is really quite amazing. Knowing them as I do, and knowing just what it took for some of them to do that, and the sacrifices they've made, makes me love them all the more.
I'll post photos in a few weeks when I get them back, but the sets and props and costumes were really something. Our community, led by some amazing parents, has poured heart and soul into making the kids look great. And the kids seem to have absorbed that and used it as a springboard to a greater performance.
I often feel a bit guilty when I see how much time people devote to doing costumes or scenery or props or selling tickets and so on. Theatre is notoriously transient and fleeting. We work for months and then it's gone after three days. Is it worth all the time and trouble? All the disruption in people's lives and routines?
I always ask myself that question and towards the end of rehearsals, I always start to waver. But then, on opening night, I always come to the same conclusion. Yes, it's worth it.
It's worth it for the pride the kids feel. It's worth it because it makes them feel important and special--that they are worth that effort. When you are an adolescent, that's a helpful message. It's worth it because it's beautiful and helps make the audience happy and have an enjoyable experience for a few hours.
But I think there are deeper reasons, lessons I hope my students will absorb. I've decided to try to figure out ways of helping them understand this more consciously. It is profound for students at this age to see people doing work and doing it well. Life is work. If we are normal, we will spend a lot of time working in our lives and doing work well and joyfully, or at least with satisfaction, is one of the keys to happiness.
So, even though I feel a twinge of guilt when I think of all the time the parents are putting in, I love it that the kids are seeing them working hard, working joyfully, working generously, and working well. Doing the job right in spite of how long it will last or the low material reward. Work is inherently worth doing well.
There's another thing I love about this. These parents are all doing this with no compensation. They're doing it because some things aren't about money. The worth and value of some things far exceeds any price that can be affixed. That's another lesson I hope the students learn, one that is in short supply these days.
And finally, doing big stuff, ambitious things, is tiring. It is exhausting and one needs to be careful not to live an unbalanced life or to just do big things for the sake of doing big things. Small can be beautiful too. But big projects remind us that humans are remarkable creatures. We can do terrible and brutish things, and we can often fail at the good things we try. But we can also do wonderful, beautiful things that we don't always think we can. In a time of so much uncertainty and worry and doubt, I think that is a good thing to remember. Even if it's just a big thing in one relatively small community, for three nights for 135 kids, I like it.
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