Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
I love this exchange at the opening of the film “Shakespeare in Love.” Anyone who has worked in the theatre can absolutely relate. From rehearsals on a bare stage, where ordinary masking tape on the floor indicates where the walls of the set will eventually go, to the final dress rehearsal counting down the hours until opening night with a critic or two in attendance, all involved feel the rush towards disaster. Props may break, sound cues fail to sound, lighting cues fail to light and, on occasion, actors may fail to make their entrance on time. However, there is nothing as thrilling as live theatre. And yet, strangely enough, it all turns out well! And it seems to be a mystery.
Now what happens if you replace “the theatre business” with “my creative life”? Every artist, be they actor, writer, musician, painter or poet, set about to take our dreams (which are only outlines on our mind’s stage floor), from blueprint to concrete reality. We practice tirelessly as we work towards our goal, our opening night. We feel plagued by “insurmountable obstacles” and frequently feel we are close to “imminent disaster.” Yet, we continue on, all the while fearful of broken props, technical miscues and even of missing our own entrance! A kind of stage fright can take hold and shake your insides, trying to get you to cancel “the show.”
What do you do then? Nothing. It all works out in the end–IF you stay true to yourself and trust your talents. The show must go on! Sometimes we think too much about the “critics in the audience” and give them too much power over us. Can they really make or break us? No, they cannot. Only we can do that.
Perhaps there is no real “mystery” involved. It’s about hard work, dedication and a touch of fearlessness.
So, trust that your props will not break and believe that all of your cues will be delivered exactly as planned and, for goodness sake, don’t miss your entrance!
I’m just saying…