Monday, May 26, 2008

That'll be the gate, it will...

Yesterday marked the last -- and quite possibly the best -- performance of The Secret Garden, and several of us were in tears as we sang "Come to the Garden" for the last time.

It's not just that the play is over, that the delicate web of community and relationships that gets woven during a play will no longer be as carefully tended, and will begin to disintegrate. For me, at least, it's also because the play has been so inspiring.

I've been inspired by Teresa and Lynda Sue's fierce yet loving direction, by the dedication of Deirdre, Jack, Austin and Matt, and by the phenomenal voices in the cast: it encourages me to take voice lessons, to sing with more intention. I've been inspired by the responsibility and dedication of our younger cast members: they give me great hope for the future.

I've been inspired by the music and lyrics, which, since I have been playing them pretty much non-stop in my car, still move me to tears on occasion. And I've been inspired by yet another triumphant example of community theater at its best.

Community theaters have so many strikes against them; they are, when all is said and done, often rag-tag organizations, loosely constructed, with all the confusing chains of command and dropped balls and last-minute frenzy that largely volunteer organizations in all arenas can face. It is nothing short of miraculous when everything comes together, and yet, week after week, in theater after theater, across the country and around the world, these theatrical miracles continue to occur.

Yes, of course, there are minor irritations. But that sense of community that builds in the cast and crew is the cornerstone of all those successes: we work together, support one another, gift and tease and cajole and reassure; study, coach and practice, move sets and sew costumes, not just for the chance to appear on stage but with the larger goal of bringing the play to life and entertaining the larger community.

And sometimes we get amazingly lucky, and the end result is more inspiring and magnificent than even the sum of all that effort could possibly have achieved. This was definitely one of those times, and I am profoundly grateful.

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