the play is over and we move on…and i will be moving back to my piano. but before i do that, i have to think some more about this experience. standing on the stage as an actor in front of two sold-out audiences was…pretty amazing. it took me time to process entering this opportunity and it’s taking me time to process moving into Next.
one of the things david said to me the day of the first performance was something like this: it’s important to not look at the audience as the audience ‘out there’…instead stand here – on the apron of the stage- and invite them in, embrace them. i suddenly recognized this as not so much different than what i do in any of my concerts. i feel as if i am inviting people into my living room (or my home studio)…well, actually, my life…each time i play a concert. and there i was, on the stage as an actor, inviting them in….
i was nervous backstage waiting. i always have eager anticipation in the green room; i spend time pacing and praying and being quiet and internal. i will sip coffee and run through my program in my head. and i fuss with my hair. this was much the same. i paced. i prayed. i was quiet and internal and i sipped coffee while running lines in memory. and yes, i fussed with my hair.
i didn’t want to be thinking, thinking, thinking as i stepped into these performances. i knew that would detract from the moment. i found, like in concert, i just needed to be present. if i am performing a piece of music, it is to my detriment if i start to think too much. the preparation is done at that point…it is time to deliver, to share it…yes to invite them in. thinking, at that point, makes it plastic, measured, contrived. and raises the chance of getting lost. just being in it is what makes it fluid, what makes it permeable, what helps it to resonate with someone outside yourself.
and so i stepped out onto the stage, in a role that i am not well-versed in…the role of actor…and i quietly became the characters in the play. i could feel them. this play has a seven-minute long silent section near the end. i had the distinct honor of holding those moments as the audience watched me re-pack a hundred-year-old trunk- a trunk filled with momentos of a ten year old boy who had died from typhoid fever and in which his momma packed all of his belongings and plastered it into the wall of a house on a ranch in california. it was with slow deliberation, weeping, that i re-packed this trunk, in silence, while the audience joined me in these emotional moments. not so unlike telling stories on stage or playing or singing something that resonates with the audience that joins me on the bench.
hmm. i think i am finding a theme here. it’s not so unlike….
and yet, the moment that the stage manager said to me, “i was so wrapped up in what you were doing that i almost missed light cues…” i felt that i was doing good work. and, even more important, when he told me that i had “brought intention” i realized, for sure, that it was exactly the same. no piece of music is without intention. no action on stage is without intention. no breath is without intention. it is to live. to honor. to share. it’s not trying to be convincing. it just IS.