Or rather, we're free. Yes, tonight was the last ever performance of Footloose at my school, the last time any of us will ever have to sing "I'm Free" and forget the dance, the last time we'll have to remember to take our chairs offstage after the Town Counsel scene, the last time we'll have to set our prom dresses for a quick change on stage right, and strip in front of all the techies directly before the finale. It's the last time, and it's gone, and I feel...confused.
Footloose was quite possibly the most difficult show I've ever been in. Not material-wise, mind you, there was no "death by gas chamber" scenes in this one, it was just plagued by about every type of misfortune a school play could be plagued by. We had no musical director for about four straight weeks, we had snow days, we had complicated choreography, but most importantly we had a school which had never dealt with the impossible before, the thought that a musical was more than just dancing and glitter, the fact that beneath the kick lines and harmonies there were real characters with real stories desperately trying to be heard above the chaos.
So many times I heard "It's so serious for a musical" or "How can a musical possibly be this intense?" Even our director admitted that our school did nothing but fluff before this, that until now, we hadn't taken this kind of risk. It was scary, it was confusing, it was...different. It was emotional.
The problem was, I had taken this kind of risk. I had tackled difficult theatrical material, and I hadn't died. Trying to convince a large body of nervous student actors and techies that despite the fact that we had no music and no kick line it would all work out, was hard. It annoyed a lot of people, my consistent optimism, and if any of you are reading this, I'm sorry about that.
Despite having rehearsal for God-knows how many hours everyday after school, a lot happened during Footloose. Someone was established in the drama department, someone found the confidence to dance, someone else looked up at the scene in front of her, and saw her life played out on stage, a few people got into college, a few people didn't, there were birthdays and funerals and parties, and in the midst of it all I suddenly found myself with a driver's license. A few people bonded, a few people didn't. A whole lifetime passed behind those curtains, and now, it's over.
To the audience, a play passes in a second. You spend about an hour or two watching a performance, you either like or you don't, and you move on. Most of the time, you don't think about it much, maybe occasionally you'll think "I remember when I saw that play..." but other than that, an audience just doesn't think about the play much. They don't realize how long the actors and techies worked, they don't realize whole lives have been changed by what's happening in front of them, they don't realize the life that happens behind the scenes. A whole lifetime for the performers, and the audience blinks and misses it.
Footloose was so many things to so many people. For some, it was their first show, for others it was their twentieth. Some people found their lives in the characters, and some people wished they were the characters. For everyone, it was stressful, by the end of the run you could, quite literally, cut the tension in the air with a knife. Everyone was holding their breath from opening to closing night, and when it was over, we all finally let it out.
I had a lot of interesting conversations with people during this play, none of which I will relate here since it is, in fact, the internet, and free for anyone to see. I got to know a lot of very different people and discovered that, surprisingly, they weren't all that different. I'm closer to a lot of people now than I was three months ago, and a lot farther away from a few others.
What this leads me with is a sense of both relief and sadness. If you had asked me two days ago, whether I was happy it was almost over, I would have answered unhesitatingly "yes". I was so ready for this show to be done, more than any show I've ever been in. However, now that it actually is over...I'm not. I miss it. It's sort of like...it's over. And now I don't know what to do.
It's not a longing sort of feeling, like when While the Lights Were Out ended, it's sort of a...I don't know. I don't really want the bazillion hour long rehearsals or the stress or anything back, that's not what I miss. I think it's the community of it that I'm going to miss, that little group of us that understood exactly what the other one was going through, understood the stress, the pressure, and didn't just write it off as "Well, it's your fault you auditioned for this play" I'm going to miss talking to people during chorus about rehearsal, or seeing the people I only ever saw after school. I'm going to miss...I don't know, I'm going to miss something. This show has left a mark on me, a different mark than the sort of mark say, Anne Frank & Me left on me, but a mark. One I'm probably not going to forget anytime soon.
A play is an interesting experience. For me, since I do it a lot, I've learned to just move on afterwards. Yes, I do a bit of complaining in my blog for about a day or so after, but for the most part, I just sort of walk away. For this though, I don't think I'll be able to. It's sort of like I've been running for a while, running fast, frantically, and now I've suddenly come to a stop. It's interesting, It's different, and it's beginning to sound eerily like the speech Reverend Shaw gives in the opening scene.
And so, in his immortal words, I have, in fact, laid down my burden. I no longer have the stress of Footloose on my shoulders, I can return to the world outside of Boemont. I'm free, I guess, to quote yet another song from this show, I'm done. It's over, and here I am.
I need to sleep now, it's nearly one in the morning, and I've just remembered I have to get up very early to sing a really high pitched song in German tomorrow. Hooray. The show must go on, I guess, no matter how confused I might be, the show must go on.
Everybody cut loose,