Sunday, April 17, 2011

Drama Disappointment

We went over to WRJ to tryout for the local community production of Oliver. I thought it would be a great opportunity for A to continue to take part in drama, which she loves, but it wasn’t quite what I had expected. The play is a musical, and they were auditioning for parts. Since Oliver revolves around kids, they need kids, and I thought it would be a chance for A to play a mushroom or street urchin, to be involved but not front and center.

The audition was after dinner. They mentioned from 6-9, which I interpreted to mean that the sooner you came, the sooner you could leave. This meant that we could try out, and then head home in time for supper, which was waiting for us. Boy was I wrong. The audition went until about 9:30. I was so bummed. What had I gotten my kids into? I had to get them something to eat.

Plus, it was a serious audition, the real deal Broadway production. The other people auditioning were mostly seasoned theater folks, with lots of dancing and singing lessons behind them. You could tell that several of them were students of the Northern Stage school. They were good, some better than others. This was my mistake, and I guess I should have been more aware of this. I figured it was going to be a kid’s play that would be a fun experience, but NCCT puts on plays in the Lebanon Opera House, and they are serious productions. The audition was mostly adults, and I recognized a few divas in there.

I was initially interested by the fact that the director is A&N’s former teacher at N. Stage, and was always encouraging of both of them. I asked A if she was interested, and she replied with an emphatic yes, but should have delved deeper into what we were getting into, because not only was A on the young side, but the other kids all had years of ballet experience, not to mention singing and stage production. In the end, she couldn’t really compete, and was aware of it.

When the called out the people they wanted to come back for callbacks, her number wasn’t announced, and she was disappointed. She wouldn’t stop talking about it. The director stressed that this did not mean that they kids were not in the play, it’s just that they wanted to see certain people again. My guess, and I could be totally off on this one, is that the call backs were for lead roles, and we had no intention of trying out for a lead. I just wanted A to have the experience.

Either way, A was a little bummed, but I tried to be more philosophical about the whole thing. First off, it was important that if she was interested, she gave it a try. Even though she was disappointed, it’s important to learn from the experience. If she felt that she was not properly prepared, she could address that for the next time around, if she wanted. That would entail dance classes and singing lessons, neither of which I’m too keen on, but if she wanted to, we’d be supportive (A is just not a ballet-person). The other lesson is that if she was not interested, that would be the end of it. The important thing is that she tried and realized it for herself. This is in contrast to what most of us do, which is to never try, justify our inaction by convincing ourselves that it wasn’t what we wanted, and then live with a lifetime of regret.

Finally, in the age of hyper-parenting, especially with overbearing parents like myself, we tend to tell the kids that everything they do is great, which is ridiculous when you think about it, and the rest of the world might not concur. It takes a third, objective person to say it like it is, even when it is not enjoyable.

It is also important for her to know that some things require a lot of hard work and practice, and involve disappointment and even rejection. You can shelter yourself from this reality early in life by only gravitating to what is easy for you, but inevitably, life will throw you a challenge that will defeat you. If you’ve been sheltered from this all your life, when you’re older, you have a much harder time dealing with it. Sometimes, you simply do not deal with it by avoiding it altogether, an approach I’ve embraced on a number of occasions.

I completely understand going for what you’re good at and dedicating your time to it, but again, we can’t succeed in everything in life, and when you experience disappointment, it makes you realize that life isn’t solely about fun and games and having things come easy for you. There are challenges, and hardships. You cannot teach these lessons, a kid never understands when you try to explain this stuff, they have to experience it and learn, early on, that life goes on, and the important thing is to at least tried. Then, you can go through life knowing that you gave it your all, and either you didn’t like it, or it just wasn’t meant to be.

That is not to say that you should push kids in every possible direction, but the process of learning who you are involves learning who you are not. I’ve had to learn this my entire life. Anyway, truth be told, if I had been more aware of what the play was about, I might have been less enthused about it. However, several of her friends were going out for it, and again, I think A is good on stage, she just doesn’t have the training and experience, and even the best actors have that going for them.

It was a learning experience, and the darn audition went way later than they said it would, and that was a bummer. On a bright note, while N and I were waiting, we went bowling, which is always a colorful and interesting experience, even more so late in the evening.

It was fascinating to see all the people with dramatic ambitions, answering their true calling in life (kudos to them for that), and a good learning experience. We’ll take what we learned into the next round, whatever that round may be.

Also, this drama thing is not over, yet.

Until then, thanks for reading, and thanks to Peter Mazurek for the pic.

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