"The Show Must Go On"....mustn't it?
“The show must go on” has been my life motto. I’ve done radio shows on days when someone close died, or my girlfriend left me. I was teaching a class when my first daughter died, and I am playing in a theatre when the second one is miserable and in imminent danger. I did concerts, sang and danced on days when I wanted to commit suicide. And I never even thought of it twice.
Most of you know the situation with my daughter, but if you don’t, it’s ok. Let’s just say things are bad in my private life. I recently collapsed right after a show, but made sure even then that nobody noticed. I just hid in a corner while everybody else was busy signing autographs and talking to people. Whoever was looking for me just assumed I was somewhere in the crowd. For me this has always been my way of life and I never even thought much about it. Looking back, this last performance was a piece of cake, exactly because I had so many serious issues to worry about, that trivial little details such as forgetting my words or being crap on stage did not bother me the least.
But today the aunt of one of the protagonists died. She also came to the rehearsal despite that, and she’ll be playing tomorrow (we can’t do it without her). She is my best friend, so we talked a lot afterwards, and she said that first of all she could not get her aunt out of her mind the whole time, which happens to me too (I’m on stage thinking about my daughter, even when I dance, sing and laugh). But she also said she felt guilty that her aunt had died and she was at the theatre as if nothing had happened. For me, this has always been unthinkable. The show must go on. No matter what. I was once at an open-air concert and it started raining heavily. I did not stop playing, nor did I leave the stage before even the last member of the audience had disappeared. Besides, there was nothing she could do for her aunt.
My actual question is:
1) have you been in similar situations, when something extreme happened in your life, but you carried on with “business as usual” (doesn’t have to be a show) out of a sense of duty to what you were doing?
2) What’s your take on this? Should my friend feel guilty? Should I? It’s not really that we’re having fun, it’s just that there is nothing we can do to solve the problem, so we continue doing our duty towards something else. It’s just that when it’s show business, it’s more extreme because you have to hide your emotions.
3) Has anyone found this kathartic? I know I’m supposed to, but don’t. Most of the other actors agreed that the theatre helps them forget their problems, at least for those couple of hours. One girl even said she feels better afterwards. I always feel worse, except on that last occasion, where I put minimum effort in the performance and just do the chores. It’s not that I don’t play well or make mistakes, it’s that I put so much more effort into everything else, that the performance for me is a bit like driving a car or making a meal. You can still do it properly if you’ve done it enough times, but it’s no big deal. There’s no actual effort going into it after a while.
Sorry for the long question. So what do you think?