I took this picture a few weeks ago while on tour with the theatre troupe. We were about an hour away from performing the first show of the season to about 600 kids and adults. We’d set everything up a little more downstage than normal, which meant that even our usual rat’s nest of cables was hidden behind curtains or back walls. In short, we ended up with a relatively wide, uncluttered corridor from one end of the stage to the other. That doesn’t happen very much.
Some people might call it stark, or empty, or black.
I call it peaceful.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that the number of times I’ve hit the stage in a musical or performance capacity over the years is easily in the 4 digits. I don’t get nervous or jittery anymore. In fact, I think the last time I had any performance butterflies was for a show at Folklife, playing for, oh, what… 3,000 people? Even that was at least 4 years ago.
Still, I find that I still need to get ready mentally, even if my stomach isn’t doing flip-flops. My Other will attest that I usually vanish off by myself about 60-90 minutes before a gig. Don’t mean to be rude. Just need to be silent for a bit. Tune up. Maybe run through some warmup exercises (a must when playing with the metal band). And just take in the stillness.
I can’t tell you why lurking in the shadows like a dime-novel villain amps me up for a performance. All I know is that it does. I don’t question it. And I don’t feel quite right if I don’t get a chance to do it.
Shai Azul is in a calm of sorts right now. The singers are recording and re-recording their parts. Collaborations are waiting for other comments. Disc 2 is approaching completion; disc 3 is forming. Not a huge amount for me to do personally right now.
Other than find the dark, quiet place. Breathe. Focus. Rest for a moment.
Because the curtain always goes up eventually. And you need to be ready when it does.