Order up! – Does anyone even like sausage?
Updated: May 10
When I begin a new theatre project, I am full of optimism. “I dwell in possibility,” as Emily Dickinson wrote.
And when things get a little bumpy, an actor drops some lines, say, or an effect doesn’t quite work the way I anticipated, I don't worry too much. Honestly. The most important ingredient in any successful production is talented and hardworking people. And I have surrounded myself with a fantastic cast and crew. (Not sure how I got so lucky, but I will take them.) I can't memorize their lines or cues for them, but I don't have to; they take what they do seriously. They, and I, recognize that to create theatre is an honor. And to share a story like this? A story about how the most vulnerable among us were poorly treated for centuries? How they were locked up, tortured, disappeared? How they are still too often not cared for adequately? How our culture adversely impacts our mental health, but we don't treat the culture, we just prescribe treatment for the patient? Telling that story? Yeah. That's a privilege.
However, three days out from serving up this play my mind is clouded with questions. I am sure these talented people I am working with have their own concerns today. Actors are mumbling their lines as they go about their workday. Tech is noodling a problem as they do their “day job”. As their director, I say, “Trust yourself. Trust each other. It’s going to be okay. Better than okay. You are going to make it okay because you care about what you do. You take pride in your craft. That's why we are creating this together. Breathe."
Imposter Syndrome Strikes
However, my cast and crew are not the only ones that need a pep talk. Between you and me? This morning? Ay yi yi!
I am experiencing acute imposter syndrome.
What was I thinking? Who do I think I am? I may have to move after this one.
I am riddled with self-doubt:
Does the play even make sense?
Why didn't I just write an op-ed?
Is it going to look like a fever dream?
My “monkey mind” is chattering nonstop:
Will everyone’s talent and efforts gel?
Will the entrances be crisp?
Will the lights and sound synch?
Will we figure out how to make the old projector connect to the new laptop?
Will we finally get the #!%!! curtain at the perfect height to create the effect I am looking for?
Will the elusive costume piece be found TODAY?
Breathe. Just breathe.
And, among my worries as the producer:
Will we get an audience?
We were featured on local news last night, but will anyone who sees it actually buy a ticket to the show?
I was interviewed for Prairie Public Radio’s Mainstreet by Craig Blumenshine, but did I sound like a mad woman, myself, and if I didn’t, will it generate enough interest to get people to come to the show?
And, finally, if no one but my dearest and nearest sees the play, I ask the proverbial question:
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?
If a tree falls in the forest and there is an audience – will they like the sound?
I must trust that these amazing ingredients will come together to make something delicious and unforgettable. We've worked too hard not to plate it up and serve it.
www.empireartscenter.com -- for tickets
Writing prompt: Can you recall ever experiencing "imposter syndrome"? What was the situation? How did it turn out?