Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ah, the Theatre, the Theatre

I was recently cast in an upcoming production of the musical “A Man of No Importance” with the Burlington Players. You might call it typecasting, since my character describes herself as a former child star of the stage who has returned to performing after having 9 (!) children. My favorite line of hers – and one of my favorite lines in the whole show – is as she’s coming in to a rehearsal and comments, “When I left the house, the 8-year-old was strangling the 4-year-old, the dirty dishes were piled up to the ceiling, and my old man was watching the telly with his trousers open. And people wonder why I love the theatre.” (It’s even funnier when you add in the requisite Irish brogue.)
I don’t claim to be a child star, but I certainly am a performer who’s taken a bit of time off from the stage to have children. And I will openly confess that as much as I adore my children – and I do – part of the appeal of being in a show is getting away from them. Or at least, of being in adult company a few times a week. When I began to consider auditioning for this show, my husband encouraged me to do it, telling me that I needed to get back to performing before either he or I lost our minds.

One of the biggest difficulties of being a stay-at-home mom is the lack of adult company, even for a loner like me. And another of the difficulties is getting some kind of validation. As much as I love being a mom, and as much as I know that I’m good at it, and as much as I consider it a hugely worthwhile endeavor, you just don’t get the same kind of kudos as you do when you’re working at a paid job. There’s no paycheck to tell you you’re worthwhile; there’s no tangible, immediate product you can point to; there’s no bonus or monthly quota or employee-of-the-month incentive to let you know you’re doing a good job. So I like finding other projects that help me feel useful and productive, like helping with costumes for another theater group, or even writing this blog. But performing, entertaining people, getting applause – that’s an immediate reward that makes me feel like I have something to contribute that not everyone can do.

So I’m trodding the boards once again. I’m dusting off my tap shoes, brushing up my brogue, and polishing my passagio. I gotta sing, I gotta dance, I gotta spend some time outside the house! Ah, the theatre, the theatre. It’s the best refuge for a mom who needs a break.

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