I used to be in plays in high school, and then I was lucky enough to be chosen as an ingenue for the Barnstormers (Tamworth, NH — a superb summer theatre company).
Being in a play is like falling in love. Like a new romance, you start with the hand-holding and passionate kissing stage; which, translated into being in a play means learning your lines, getting your blocking down pat from the director so you know where you are supposed to be at all times when you are on stage. You even find yourself memorizing everyone else’s lines, just so you can be sure of your cues, and also how the other characters react to your character.
Then you move on to the ‘am I really in love or just kidding myself’ stage. You get all your lines memorized and work hard to be the best and most believeable character you can be. In doing so, you begin to BE that person. You start looking at the world through their eyes, their experiences, their interactions and relationships with the other characters in the play. You slowly realize that you are only part of the play, even if you are the main character around which the whole thing revolves. The play becomes a second family; you know who you are and who everyone else is, and how you all fit together.
Now comes the real test of love: opening night on stage with everyone in costume, and a full house out front. Your stomach turns as you hear the orchestra tuning up, and you know that it won’t be long until the overture starts. The final notes are played, the audience applauds and the curtain goes up, and you go on—and the show begins.
In seconds, you know whether or not you are going to completely blow it, or trust in that cellular memory of all those rehearsals and memorizing lines before you slept. You take a breath, clear your head, and take that first step into the light.
Before you know it, the play is over. You are being hugged and are hugging your second family members, knowing that you did a good performance and, better yet–that the play went off without a hitch.
That is the rollercoaster ride that is being in a play.