In this past year I have been blessed with the ability to try out musical theatre. I enjoyed it tremendously and it has helped me to grow. There are certain things that can only be experienced on the stage. I for one had a once in a lifetime experience today. In front of thousands of people I, along with the cast of “Urinetown The Musical” performed a short number at Benaroya Hall. The road to this glorious moment wasn’t covered in roses by any means. I would say my road through theatre had quite a few potholes in it, making for a rough ride.
Last year at about this time I signed up for the introductory class for Musical Theatre. I wanted to do it. My choir director warned me off the bat “It’s intense. I’m going to kill you. Are you sure you really want to do this? It’s hard work and lots of energy.” Yeah, didn’t stop me from going to the counselor’s office anyways. My goal in taking theatre was not to earn great awards or get onto Broadway; but to learn more about how a musical production comes to be. I had no desire to be the star but to get to participate in something I had always admired from a balcony seat.
On the first day of theatre, my one remark to my choir director was “I am ready to be murdered.” Of course with it came a big hug. During class he gave a big speech about the weakest links and all sorts of stuff. There were a few glances (eyeing’s) in my direction. I think the warnings given in the speech were ever so slightly hinting at “save yourself while you can.” Once I sign up for something, I don’t generally back out. I was doing theatre come hell or high water. Even more so I was determined not to be the weakest link or the unreliable one. Complications of lupus stand no match against my sheer determination to do something I want to do.
First semester was a tad bit rough. The class did not meld together well. I had to learn how to dance, act and sing like a theatre person. Getting up and performing zaps me of all my spoons. Especially trying to act healthy and pull it together when I’m really not. One of the greatest feats of theatre and having lupus is deception. To be dead on the inside but yet appear alive on the outside is one of the most complicated feats known to man. I several times achieved covering up my not so brilliant days in performance, but other times I failed at the feat. Never did I give up. Never did I say, “I can’t do this. I’m too tired. My body feels like it’s been ran over by a truck.” Instead I would try anyways.
Second semester is where the real test began. Putting on an actual musical and doing so without my health fully intact. I can say overall I enjoyed the process. However, some parts of it I was flat out miserable. My body would be throbbing, head foggy, joints aching and all those other fun things during rehearsal. Now, I only missed one rehearsal and only had to sit out part of one rehearsal. But I didn’t give up those rehearsals without a fight! Other than the two missed per say, I was there. I tried, I fought, and by golly in the end, I won. Lupus didn’t stop me from being in a musical and not just being the dead person. Though in the end of “Urinetown The Musical” I did die by toilet plunger blunt force trauma.
During the days of performances I was sleeping. Pretty much my life was getting up, performing, sloughing off theatre make-up and sleeping. I paid a price for every single show. Most mornings I would wake up with my body swollen and stiff. Overwhelming feeling of fatigue and a fair amount of fog. Looking back, the suffering was worth the price. Lupus doesn’t give refunds and the memories I have from theatre will be happily remembered for the rest of my life. For me theatre was a one-time experience. I cannot subject myself to the spoon draining effects of another show for possibly ever. Although I enjoyed it tremendously, I don’t have the tolerance to live in lupus hell for several months to be in another show.
I don’t know if I was the first person my director had who was chronically ill (especially with something as serious as lupus.) I’ll probably never know. Most people in my position would never even try to do what I did. They would view it as too risky or too spoon consuming. Honestly you can do anything you set your mind to. I set my mind to theatre and I did it. The obstacles are only as big as you make them. I traversed mountains (or at least physically felt like I had) and rivers to do this. It is possible. Keep your chin high, cut back on the whine and march forward. Eventually putting one foot out in front of the other will get you somewhere.
Both my director and my theatre friends were a huge part of helping me achieve my goal. They were there for me, cheered me on and helped to show me where the light switch was when everything was dark. Without the understanding from them, I would have had a much tougher time than I already did. Thank you for being there for me.
I now genuinely appreciate any play I go and see. I understand the long hard hours put into a production. The sacrifices people make to be in plays and most importantly how much energy it takes to do a play. As for murdering me… “I’m not dead yet~!”