(This post was inspired by motivational talks from my roommate, cast-mate, and forever-Hall-&-Oates-dance-partner, Laurikins O’Brien).
As opening night rapidly approaches, I feel a cauldron of nervous energy brewing in the pit of my stomach. I genuinely forgot how much hard work a production takes. Sweet baby Jesus, it’s a lot of concerted time and energy.
When the Bennet sisters stand in line according to age, the cast calls it "Von Trapping".
And, as so proves my experience with most other things in life, the more time and energy you put into a project, the more emotionally invested you become. And, the more emotionally invested you become, the higher your hopes and expectations for the anticipated outcome. Anticipation for the unknown causes anxiety…and there’s a helluva lot of unknown tangled up in my expectations for the next few weeks.
My anxiety stems, I think, mostly from anticipation of my ability to deliver for the two groups whose opinions I care about the most: our audience and our cast.
A flurry of questions around those two subjects has been floating around in my head lately. While sitting on BART commuting into work, I find myself imagining our future audience: Will we have an engaged and supportive crowd? Will they laugh at the right moments and appreciate our creative interpretation of Jane Austen’s epic story? What message will they take away from it all?
While throwing my laundry into the dryer at home, a different set of questions about our cast wanders into my mind: Will our long nights spent at rehearsal pay off in the fluidity of our scenes? Will I forget a scene change and screw up someone’s blocking? Will I drop a line and dampen the integrity of Hallie’s script?
An epic battle ensues between Kitty and Lydia.
And the answers? …nobody knows.
Great. More anxiety.
Yet, among the wild unknown occupying space and igniting fear inside my brain, there is one small but significant piece that I can control: how I react to it.
Arguably, I have two choices when deciding how to respond to my fear. I can:
- choose to resist; forcing nervous thoughts to the corners of my mind, creating a distant but condensed, and often overwhelming, form of my anxiety… or
- use it. Accept my nervous energy as a sign that this is something I care about deeply. Bottle that energy and transform it into a force propelling me to do the best that I can, and to appreciate each moment as it passes—the successes as much as the failures. With a big smile and a light heart, I can choose to embrace and even appreciate my own sense of fear. I can let go of self-inflicted pressure in favor of enjoying the experience.
So, with a resounding sense of confidence, I choose option #2.
I make this choice partly because I care about our audience, and feel that my energy-infused performance will help make the most of their experience, and partly because I care about our cast, and feel that my positive attitude will help make the most of their experience.
Kristin as Mary, Rachel as Kitty, Taylor as Lydia, and Terry as Mrs. Bennet.
…but mostly because, once this is all over, I know it will have passed by too fast. And I know that making a conscious choice to appreciate the distinct flavors of each fleeting moment as it passes is the only way I can possibly make the most of my experience.
And that is what it’s all about, anyway.
All of my love,
Kitty Bennet (aka Rachel Olmedo)