This afternoon, I attended a production by the local high school drama department, where they performed Stephen Sondheim’s macabre musical, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. I really enjoyed myself—the direction, music, and performances were wonderful.
I’ve gone to a number of high school productions, now, and they always cause me to contemplate. I think about the performers, still adolescents. How courageous they are, daring and hopeful. What makes them believe that they can walk out on a stage, in front of friends and strangers, and put on a performance that causes the audience to forget for a few hours that these are just kids?
I think about when I was in high school. No one I knew participated in Props ‘n Paints, my school’s drama club. I still can’t imagine how terrifying it would feel, even just to audition for a part. Even just an acting (speaking) part. But, to sing for a role in a musical? That would be completely baring oneself to scrutiny and criticism. High school can be tough enough on a kid’s emotions and self-confidence, without adding the public exposure of auditioning for the school musical and getting cut.
Therefore, I’m impressed not just by the kids in the production, but all the kids courageous enough to try-out. Then, the reward for passing the audition? Working probably harder than they ever have before. Learning. Learning to sing. Really sing. Learning to act, and react. Learning stage direction. Learning to work as an ensemble. Learning how hard you want to work and how good you want to be, because you understand how hard everyone else is working, and you don’t want to let them down.
These kids get to work with some wonderful souls who have a lot to give, and seem to always find a way to help each actor to find his/her own voice. It is a magician of warmth, comfort, and discipline who can conjure more out of a person than he/she ever realized was possible. The directors of the production have the patience and talent to love and lift each actor at the start, and to give each the help, support, strategies, exercises, and guidance to open a door to a wonderful world. Music, fantasy, drama. Not something greater than life, but a look at the top of what life can be.
I watch these productions in amazement. Occasionally, I may be moved to tears—by a storyline, a beautiful voice, or a performance that exceeds the age of the actor. I humbly sit, and I wish that I, well, what if I had been brave enough to try out for the school musical?
So, what does this have to do with Life Coaching anyway?