Monday, February 25, 2013

auf wiedersehn, a bientot...

......the drum roll slowly buzzed, building the tension, and with the crash of the final cymbal, the house went to black, and it was....The End.

I put my sticks down on my snare as the audience began its clapping and standing to honor the jobs that the now bowing actors and singers had just done. For a moment the emotion was overwhelming and there were tears just under my eye lids that begged for release, but would have to wait. We stood as the band together, and took a bow along with the cast through the now open doors of the set in front of us. The cast left the stage, the backstage lights came up, and just like that, it was over.

The run of “Cabaret” was spent, and I felt such a huge release of pressure that I had been under since agreeing to try to do this job.  The pressure I had placed on myself to get every thing right, doing it on stage before the crowds for the past two weeks,  and always under the ever watchful eyes and ears of Randy, the director, suddenly was gone. I felt that a enormous weigh had kindly been lifted away.

I packed my sticks and made my way to my waiting truck to carry me home. The now late afternoon was still bright blue, balmy, and lovely as I drove along pondering what the heck I had just been through for the past month’s duration of all the hours spent practicing and rehearsing, and then doing the performances. The whole thing had really been overwhelming at times, certainly great fun at some, but had put me in a place I had never been before and so the idea of making it back to some form of my personal reality was unclear. I drove along in a bit of a brain numbed daze.

I pulled off of the Interstate and headed south onto the two lane county road that heads due south towards our house in the country. I looked at a brilliant setting sun to my right, slightly obscured by a veil of wispy clouds. I looked to my left to see the opposite orb rising, a full moon, bright white against the still blue afternoon sky. I was in the cross fire of these planets and couldn’t help but feel their pull, their energy, and I felt better for them being there at that moment as though they were there just to give me an infusion of some sort, a celestial cocktail. I needed it and drank heavily. It was beautiful. When I got home I found a pathway of lovely pink petals which led me to a waiting shaker. Sometimes my husband is actually a very brilliant fellow.

We later attended a very sweet cast and crew party. The champagne flowed until the bottles were empty, and then everyone said adieus and were gone. This magical group that had put on that truly amazing show, was no more. That ephemeral bubble that it had been, floated no more and was popped.

 In a previous bit of writing about the play and my trepidation, I had mentioned that in some way the sound of the band for “Cabaret” would be a bit bullet proof due to the fact that it is supposed to be about a bunch of whores, drunks, and misfits playing the music semi badly, so adherence to playing something perfectly was not necessary and would be out of place and expectation. I certainly complied with that on my part, playing like a drunk whore in a seedy bar bumbling over this and that place in the songs. The problem was that there really was a score that was meant to be followed, and I had to know where to go, and when, and sometimes I just didn't or couldn't.

The other fellows in the band, who actually know how to read music and know how to make it happen correctly, on time, every time, have had to cover and ride over my mistakes and goofs. Not so bullet proof as I had hoped to have been, some nights in leaving I felt that I had been totally ripped to shreds. Maybe no one on the other side of the wall/set knew, but my band mates knew, and the director and I, painfully, knew the truth of my many mistakes.  

The playing style was very different from any I had done before, where the written score is hand work of the Almighty, and “it” shall not be moved, changed, or deviated from, with exceptions only by the will of the director who has a higher ranking in this case. By contrast the way I have always played before has been by ear, and by familiarization with a song, the framework being loose and very flexible. This differences were very hard for me to deal with and I made pages after pages of scribbled notes on what to play when and how. My job, I was told, was to just fluff up the sound, and so that is what I tried my best, inadequately as I was, to do.

This process of trying to learn the drum parts for this play has been the most challenging endeavor I have ever taken on. It has thoroughly challenged my brain, my hands, and my nerves to do things I have never done, and never really imagined that I could come close to doing.  What I wanted was perfection, to do a great job, to knock the home run out of the park, and my doubt and fear of failure to do this was stifling. So, why did I continue and not bail out earlier? I am not sure yet, and perhaps I should have. 

First, the whole idea was as a total lark. I thought it would be cool to do a play with my daughter. That has indeed been a great part, but lacking the chance to get to see her dance during performances, there was a down side to that. It was always so great though, to begin each show with her waiting for her cue, standing right in front of me, smiling, encouraging me, so happy to be in her element. She has done such a magnificent job in her role as a dancer, and has enjoyed rave reviews for it. I am so proud of her and am happy to have witnessed her hard work and success on the whole project.

Over the course of the performances the singers and actors have simply blown me, and the audiences, away. I have been amazed every time I have heard them work, the skill in their voices, the way they have given it up each and every night. To me, they are the fearless ones. I am told they all have their moments too, but I have seen little proof of that. 
So now it is over, the pressure is gone, the hours and hours of practicing have vanished, as have the hours spent on stage, leaving only the already fading memories in their wake. I wish that I had been able to get to know more of the cast better but am grateful for the kindness and new friendships of the ones who I did get to know. Theirs was an obvious and sweet camaraderie. 

I regret that ultimately I was not able to rise to the full height of my own expectations. It wasn’t without an enormous effort, and perhaps with more time, I might have come closer. The last night was certainly my best go at it, but that tiny question will never be answered. It is, what it was.

What I have learned through all of this, that in my self, there is a new awareness  of where my comfort zones are and where they can be pushed to, and beyond. While I didn’t do a great and perfect job, I did do it, and I did not quit.

I really did play the drums with my daughter in a fabulous production of “Cabaret” in a small and wonderful community theatre.  That, simply, is what I can take away from this, and is, what I can be satisfied and happy with.

“Auf Wiedersehn, a bientot”.......... and so farewell to the..... “Cabaret”.


  1. I think you were magnificent my love!

    1. i think you are magnificent in telling me so,,and the petal strewn pathway was a very nice touch to a nice reward