“I used to be embarrassed because I was just a comic book writer while other people were building bridges or going on to medical careers. And then I began to realize: entertainment is one of the most important things in people’s lives. Without it, they might go off the deep end. I feel that if you’re able to entertain, you’re doing a good thing.”
We are entering our final week of Sound of Music. I intended to blog as we went along during the time we have sitting backstage, but I’ve just been so tired or distracted that I end up playing Candy Crush or scrolling through Facebook like a zombie. Actually, I’ve also been reading Embrace Yourself by Taryn Brumfitt and Tiny Beautiful Things – Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed – both very affirming and thought-provoking, but easy to consume and dip in and out of. I feel like I have the attention span of a gnat at the moment. I can focus on the thing I need to do right at that moment (like being a disapproving nun) but there’s not much room left for any other output. Which is fine.
As I said in an earlier post, I think sometimes people don’t understand why you would do community theatre. Why give up your time, money, energy and life just to muck about on stage? But, as the quote above from recently-departed Stan Lee says, if you’re able to entertain you’re doing a good thing. I am frustrated by everything needing to be monetised, as though that is the only reasonable measure of worth. That’s what killed a lot of my little entrepreneurial forays, taking something that gave me joy and was creative and having to make enough money out of it to be worthwhile. Of course if you want to make a living at it, that’s the mindset you have to have, but I am really enjoying doing things for their own sake.
Life is so much more than just struggling through each day, or just working. It’s about the stories we tell, stories about who we are and what we believe. As our director Danny keeps reminding us, we’re telling a story up on stage. It’s not just going through the motions, or even just doing it for our own gratification. People have a connection with the story of the Sound of Music itself, but they also have stories about what it means in their own lives. Maybe they have fond memories of watching the movie as a child. Maybe they watch it every year with their own children. Maybe they visited Austria and went on the Sound of Music tour. Maybe they just love the songs. We don’t know why people have come to the show, but they have been loving it and it’s our job to tell the story well.
Evidently we’ve been doing a reasonable job! I loved this comment that was shared in our Facebook group: “Although it’s not usually my favourite musical, it was outstanding!!! Incredible talent in Launceston and from all at Encore Theatre Company… bravo ?????? The set was next level, the orchestra were sublime and the vocals / acting hit all the right spots! Special mention to the nun ensemble singing… just beautiful. Two times during the show the kids looked at me with tears in their little eyes! They were moved and said they were happy tears… now if that’s not praise for good theatre I don’t know what is!!! Found myself smiling throughout and then genuinely frightened when the soldiers ran through the audience… great theatre!!!” Or this: “We went to The Sound of Music yesterday…It was absolutely fabulous!! It was honestly equally as good as anything we saw in London recently.. Congratulations to you all. The Mother’s Climb Every Mountain sent shivers down my spine…so good.” Or my own mum, coming home after opening night and immediately booking a ticket for closing night. And they’re not cheap tickets, either! We’ve sold over 7500 tickets, which is astounding to me.
Why wouldn’t you want to bring that joy and delight into peoples’ lives? It would be so nice to actually earn a living in the arts (have I mentioned how much I hate being stuck at a desk? Strange how that’s been most of my working life…and most peoples’ I guess). But even if I can’t live off it, it’s still worth doing. A thousand times over.
Here are some of the stunning photographs by Jess Walker and Susan Tolputt. Still some tickets available for our final week if you’re on the fence about coming or fancy an impromptu visit to Launceston for a show!