Or Why I Prefer to Stay Backstage Instead Of Being Centerstage…
I don’t do well with a lot of attention focused on me. I become very uncomfortable, start to sweat, turn bright red, fidget uncontrollably, and say the first thing that comes to mind, unfiltered. It was worse when I was young. I was painfully shy and would hide behind my mother’s legs. When that was no longer acceptable my anxiety took over. I was sure everyone knew how much of a mess I was and we’re all laughing at me. All very Carrie-esque, only without the tampons and only in my head.
Unfortunately, we were all drafted into the third grade play so there was no getting out of it. It was a play about great American patriots from and in New Jersey. I can’t remember who I played. All I knew was I was forced to be on the stage alone. I was not happy about this. All focus would be on me. What a freaking nightmare. At least I had no lines to memorize. I was just supposed to sit in a rocking chair and pretend to knit. Easy enough, right?
Someone brought in a rocking chair that was meant for dolls. It was tiny. I old squeeze into it but my knees were up to my chest. This did not bode well at all. “It will be fine,” the teacher said,”you only need to be in it for a minute anyway.” Famous last words.
The day of the play I’m all set. The teacher tells me to carry on the chair and knitting, sit and rock while the narrator speaks, get up, take the chair and knitting down the steps at the front of the stage to sit with the chorus, and I’ll be done. I’m a wreck. And to make things worse, my mom actually showed up to watch me. She almost never was able to get away from work to see school stuff. I hoped I didn’t throw up all over the place.
I stood off to the side backstage, waiting for my cue, my rocking chair and knitting in hand. I was shaking, but ready. I went out on time, sat and pretended to knit, and tried to get up…only the damn chair stuck to my ass. I fought with it for a minute before just giving up and trying to get down the stairs when it suddenly popped off and I almost fell down the stairs with it. I was mortified. Everyone was laughing at me. And who was laughing loudest? My mom, in the front row. She was almost on the floor laughing. I wanted to die.
It took the teacher a good five minutes to get the parents under control after my stage debut. My mom told everyone about it. I never “acted” again. I did, however become quite good at a lot of backstage things: stage managing, gaffing, makeup, lighting, etc. I also got better with public speaking and even could do improv. Still, I absolutely refuse yo act in a play. Never again!