HAVING AN OFF NIGHT – By Jes DeGroot
Have you ever had a show that just wasn’t quite right? Last night, it was my third performance as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and, as the action started, it felt like a little steam was missing. Everyone was in place, no lines were forgotten and no one sang any clunkers, but for me, something just felt…off. For the entirety of Act I, everything rushed by in a blur. I felt a little like I was going through the motions, so I even added in a few small dramatic pauses to try to “connect” but the energy still felt flat. Once intermission hit, most of the actors were pretty beat and I was feeling down in the dumps. But then, something changed. I don’t know what it was; maybe having a comforting chat with my friends helped, or maybe just having a short break did the trick, but somehow, by the time Act II took place, the life came back into me, and the stage brightened with true smiles and energy-filled acting. Looking back on the performance, I tried to put my finger on the reason everything felt off. It’s true that some of the actors were sick, and we had just come back from a four day break from the show with no pick-up rehearsal to refresh our memory, AND we all felt pretty tired. However, I know the only thing that I can really control is my own performance. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, I wanted to share a few questions I am learning to ask myself. Am I really paying attention to the other actors and playing off their energy or I am just delivering lines? Am I staying in character between lines? If I’ve already performed the show a few times, am I just going through the motions or am I actually feeling the character’s feelings? Once it started to feel flat, did I accidentally over-think a tiny mistake and lose the moment? After a couple of successful performances, am I beginning to become overconfident? I don’t always know the answers, but as I ask myself these questions, it’s helping me find the heart of the problem. After thinking it all through, I have learned that I can’t be completely calm and relaxed about a show; if I get overconfident onstage, I lose my energy. Although last night’s performance was an upsetting experience it’s also just another learning experience. And now I am looking forward to tomorrow night’s performance, ready to shimmer and shine my brightest!