It’s all about the stage time….or not

When I started powerlifting, several lifters told me that if I wasn’t at the gym every day, I wasn’t serious. The funny thing is, my weights didn’t really start going up until I found a group of lifters that only did three days per week. There are times when I don’t maintain that pace, but I know when I do it is sustainable, and if I stop lifting for a few weeks, it’s not from burnout. So part of my powerlifting training was finding what worked for me.

But this post isn’t about powerlifting.

I’ve had several comedians tell me that I have to be on stage at least 5 nights a week. I’ve never quite managed that, but I have hit 3 on occasion, and I did 2 shows in one night last year. I have a few reasons (or excuses, depending on your point of view) why this is so – date night with my husband, dinner with friends, square dancing, etc. I knew this month would be somewhat light in the stage time department, but I just realized that I’ve only done comedy once so far this month. That’s down from my “at least once a week” pace and it bothers me.

On the other hand, I’ve stepped up my writing time, and I have a few new bits that are now ready to test on stage. I also completed the first draft a short play that I want to submit to a contest later this year. When I’ve pushed myself to get on stage multiple times per week, I’ve never been able to write material at the same time.

So, like powerlifting, I need to find my sustainable pace of performing and balance that with a sustainable pace of writing.

Magic and A Few Missed Stages

Tonight we had the dress rehearsal for a reader’s theater play that my church is doing. I have a fairly big role, but it’s only one character (in the last production I had 8 roles). I’m always amazed at the process of bringing a show to life. At the first reading there is some excitement and a lot of enthusiasm. As the rehearsals progress, it becomes clear that it is going to be more difficult than originally anticipated. It doesn’t really matter how many shows you’ve done, you always have that moment when you realize it’s a bigger job than you thought. There is always a mid-rehearsal depression – it’s not coming together, I can’t memorize that one line, the character falls apart in this scene.

This show, particularly, has been challenging because it’s a premier and the writer/director is hearing the lines he wrote being said by other people for the first time complete with nuances that he may not have expected. In the later rehearsals, there are glimmers of hope that it will all work, but problems remain. Last night we had the actors’ microphones, the music, and the background slides all together for the first time – and it felt like a jumble. Then tonight it seemed to fall into place. Oh there were still problems – a few missed cues, a few dropped lines, some sound effects issue – but basically it suddenly seemed like a show. Late rehearsal magic.

Between the rehearsals, show schedule, and tickets we have to see other shows, I’ve had to say “no” to a few invites to do standup shows. I really hate having to miss these opportunities, both because I feel I’m letting down a fellow comedian and because I know I need the stage time.

Still, I had a pretty good set in Indianapolis last week and the run of the play is only this weekend, after which I can get back to the comedy stage.