Today might be my last day of paid work for awhile. My co-workers and I are part of a union of employees who collectively are in a situation where our bargaining committee has issued a work stoppage that would take effect at 6:00 a.m. tomorrow.
Now I’m not going to get into the issues here and talk about that process because I don’t think that would be wise or profitable for any reader out there. Suffice to say however that the stress of a work stoppage and the loss of income that comes with it are affecting everyone. There’s an edge in the workplace.
Fortunately last night, instead of sitting at home and wondering what might or might not happen and allowing the stress over things I have no control over, I had other plans. In my local town of Lindsay, there’s going to be a production of, “Beauty and the Beast” in the fall of this year. Last night was the night when those who have auditioned last week and passed that stage were invited to get on stage and audition for specific parts.
So upon arriving, I was handed three sheets of paper, each containing an excerpt from the play with three different characters highlighted. If you’ve never gone to a callback before for amateur theatre, this means that you’re being considered for whatever you’ve been handed, and you’ll be on stage speaking the lines highlighted with one or more other people so the Director’s can see how you deliver the lines, the chemistry you create with various people, and the can gauge things like the height of the actors, their stage presence and which roles suit people best.
Do you know the play? If you do, then picture me up for the role of Cogsworth the clock, Lumiere the Candlestick or Maurice, the father of the lead Belle. Do I have a preference? Sure, Cogsworth is a fun role, and I’d like that one. But some people can’t pull off certain roles, while others can adapt and play convincingly a number of roles. So it’s really up to Director’s to assemble people and put them in roles which as an entire cast will work best for the audience.
Interesting how my fate of which role (if any) and whether I’m on strike tomorrow or not are both out of my hands at this point. But I digress.
My point here is that last night was fun. It was a chance to catch up with other actors I only see whenever there’s an amateur production in our town to try out for. And it’s been a couple of years since a show was mounted in Lindsay which called for locals to audition. Some of the people who came out are now in their 20’s, and I first acted with them when they were small children. All of us are older, and we brought back warm memories of plays past.
So from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., I sat and watched small children do their thing on stage and then from 7:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. I was doing my bit. It is fun like I said. There’s no audience out there to wow, and you’re up there on an empty stage with nothing but other hopefuls all holding their various photocopies of script excerpts and reading lines back and forth. Some get right into not only the words, but start to add actions, facial expressions, and movement. Others, well, they just read the lines.
What I really liked about the group who came out last night is that the quality of people from which to choose is strong. That makes the job harder for the two Director’s who have to cast people in various roles, but the final production will be really good because each person can sing, can act, and can dance.
While there, I did think of the looming strike from time to time when people asked, “How are things?” I think that’s normal to be thinking of it. However, it was equally nice to then just get caught up in doing something fun and enjoyable, laugh and hug a few women I haven’t seen for years.
I imagine you’ve got some stress of your own. A frustrating job search, a promotion that you got passed over for, a presentation at work that didn’t go over well or is coming up far too quickly. That’s the thing about stress, it’s not only reserved for some. We all get in situations which bring a certain amount of stress with them. It’s about how we deal with that stress that defines us and keeps us healthy or not.
Diversions such as my audition last night, serve to provide balance and an outlet for that anxiety or stress. I know that today at 8:00 a.m. as I complete this blog, I am more relaxed than I was yesterday at this time, and yet the threat of a strike is now 22 hours away.
Take a walk, play a game, ride your bike, do some gardening, go see a comedy movie. Do whatever you personally find enjoyable and whatever brings a smile or a laugh to your face. It takes 17 muscles to smile and 46 to frown I’ve heard. So stop working so hard and lighten things up a little. Lightening things up doesn’t mean your problems are not important, it only means you’re dealing with them in a healthy way.