Tonight the Tuna clan went out and saw a "staged reading" of a new play at one of our community theaters. I raced to this performance from another rehearsal, and when I walked in (with five minutes to spare), much to my great delight, I discovered the performance space was ABSOLUTELY PACKED. They had run out of programs and run out of chairs, and were grabbing anything "sittable" from the lobby and the office. And that made me smile.
TeenTuna had desperately wanted to go to this show for a variety of reasons. She knew some of the actors directly involved, she knew several of her theater colleagues would be attending, and the play itself was about music, and love and family. That's an unbeatable triple threat -- and one I entirely support on all counts. So, off we went, and had a great time.
After a bit of a hiatus, TeenTuna has returned to the theater scene -- both community and high school productions -- and is as happy as can be. Through theater, just as in music and school and church, she has found yet another family of friends that are encouraging, supportive, interesting, outgoing, and just plain nice. Sometimes I think the theatre world is chock-full of undeserving divas, wannabees, and out-and-out whackadoodles. But having spent more than my fair share treading the boards wearing corsets and singing high C's, I have to admit that the operatic world probably has ten times the number of undeserving divas, wannabees and out-and-out whackadoodles. Come to think of it, so does work, and so does most fast food restaurants, so casting aspersions on one group over another is unfair. (Except, you know, in opera, we have to deal with the damn tenors on a daily basis, and we should get combat pay for that one.)
What I love about the local arts is the unashamed, unabashed LOVE for the arts. For drama. For comedy. For musicals. For the new and avant-garde. For the old and traditional. For the opportunity to take people away from the mundane of the world and the problems of their everyday lives and transport them to another place and time and tell them a story -- sometimes with dance, sometimes with words, and sometimes with music. It's a gift when you have an audience. It's a much greater gift when you are given the opportunity to share something with them in return.
I am reminded of reality-based competition shows like "American Idol" or "America's Next Top Model." When the judges first meet potential contestants, they often ask, "why are you here?" and the answer is a well-practiced definitive "I'm here because I AM the next American Idol/Top Model/etc. etc. etc." And while I think confidence is a great thing, just once I'd like to hear someone say, "I'm here because this is what I do. This is what I love. And I'd do it even if I didn't get paid, because it heals my heart and nurtures my soul."'
I bet any reality show judge wouldn't know what to say to a response like that.
I bet every single person involved in community arts of any kind would know exactly what I'm talking about.
And that would make me smile.