I take a deep breath and look around. Our usual bright fluorescent lighting for rehearsal warm ups has become the warm and welcoming glow of the warm-up lights. I close my eyes and try to imagine that every pink- and blue-colored beam coming from above is energizing me. I envision how these same lights have energized me for the past three years when I have an epiphany as sudden and frightening as a car accident: this is my last musical at Berkshire. I open my eyes and see my cast mates through blurry, tear-obstructed eyes. I feel my heart tighten and expand, as I become hyper aware of where I am and what I am doing. I listen to my pulse as I focus on my breathing. As I observe my cast mates again, I see them doing the same, and I am reminded of why I will miss Berkshire Theater so much.
There’s something about the work ethic and the type of person that our theater program attracts that allows everyone to be completely genuine and comfortable. We push ourselves to our limits while encouraging others to explore their own personal bounds. We attempt to discover our strengths that champion our shortcomings. But, along the way, we have to be able to access these flaws and acknowledge them probably in a much more graphic way than we have ever had to before.
And it feels amazing.
Every day in the theater, I’m able to reflect on myself and process everything that needs to be scrutinized, react to it and from there heal it. This procedure seems mundane and expected in any team setting, but that’s not always the case. My elaborate process of digesting my experiences in the theater could not be possible without my confidence in my cast mates. My theater experiences have been so successful and fruitful every time because everyone is looking out for each other. We all see each other at our most vulnerable every day, and we still love each other.
I’ve been told that I’m a sensitive person. I choose to ignore those who want to use it as a provocation. High school has taught me that nothing is worth doing if I can’t do it unconditionally. I used to think that high school would have taught me the opposite: If it’s not perfect, don’t do it. Truth be told I used to think that. I used to not only think that but I believed it and lived it. I lived towards the goal of perfection for so long that I forgot to live. I shoved my emotions aside and trusted only the technicalities. I didn’t go on the journey; I zeroed in on the destination.
Through theater, I learned the importance of accepting everything I feel and think. I learned to welcome others help constructively and lovingly by saying “thank you”. I learned how to lead by treating a six-line-role as if it were a sixty-line-role. I learned about the beauty of subtlety and the art of getting there. I learned the real difference between 40% and 95% (Hint: it’s not just 55%). I learned how to balance, and I learned how to challenge. I learned some amazing things about myself that I’ll cherish forever. But most importantly, I learned how to savor moments in my life.
As we get closer to performance preparation like warm-ups become increasingly crucial to Into the Woods’ triumph. Mr. Howard has reminded the cast of how fleeting the next week will seem, and has urged us to become more mindful of everything that we do here. Each show has a unique heartbeat, but in order to hear and feel the pulse of Into the Woods, everyone has to savor each moment (in the woods, haha).
When the long rehearsals get tough and all I want to do is sit in my room and watch Netflix, I remind myself of the incomparable thrill of the performance. I think of those moments standing in a circle onstage with my cast mates, looking out at them in the pools of pink and blue light, wondering how I could be lucky enough to get to bare my soul to these people on a daily basis.
You can mock me for how cheesy all of this may sound. But the joy that Berkshire Theater has given me these past three years is unfathomable. As I have learned it’s better to sound hackneyed and revel in the experience instead of being a casual bystander. Bystanders just look in; They’re sensory-deprived, (to steal a metaphor from Johanna Gleason.)
I just wish that there were a way I could communicate through words how incredible my experiences have been on this show. Sadly, I fear I am ill equipped for the intensity and craftsmanship of vocabulary that this description would require, for remembering this show will be like remembering the sweetest and purest melody ever written you just have to hear it to know.
So, I will choose to bask in the moments and drink up every bit of flavor and magic that they have to offer. It’s almost over and it’s only just begun.
Until next time, this is Pratima, and these have been my Ponderings.