By Shelley Luedtke
In the latest go at bringing a Broadway musical to live TV, the producers of Fox's "Rent" found themselves in a challenging situation when a lead actor was injured during rehearsal. Unable to move and dance the way the character needed to because of a cast on his foot, the decision was made to air a large portion of the dress rehearsal that had been taped the day before.
Imagine having to use dress rehearsal footage as the real thing. Though each rehearsal is certainly taken seriously it still isn't the same as being in front of a live audience. How many of the cast members held back a bit on their solos to protect their voices before the live event? How many may have altered a dance move to save a sore back or knee to ensure they could do every move fully the following day? When they signed on for the project none of the cast could have predicted that the majority of what the audience would see would be a rehearsal.
In reading the reviews it seems some of the performers fared better than others, but the best article I saw asked the question: How do you review something the audience was never meant to see?
A rehearsal is preparation. It is practice for an event. It is understood to be a place where mistakes can happen and slip-ups occur. Actors and musicians are in rehearsals often. But we also rehearse for weddings, graduations and other special celebrations. A fourth year student where I went to university had to rehearse how to serve a meal to royalty when the Prince and Princess of Norway visited our campus.
I have rehearsed for theatre productions, concerts, worship services and, in what turned out to be a really good decision on the part of our teacher, my grade 3 class had to rehearse dealing with customers when we hosted a bake sale at our elementary school.
I have also been in many rehearsals that I wouldn't have wanted an audience to see. It is the private space where you troubleshoot and come up with ideas to make things work. So to have to present a dress rehearsal to the audience as a finished product would be rather tough to swallow. So again, how do you rate something you were never supposed to see?
Yet how often do we hear people use similar sentiments? If we are crying or angry or ill we might have said to someone, "I don't want you to see me this way." If something has turned in a direction we didn't expect we might implore, "I can't have you see me like this."
A friend of mine was asked to be a model for a fashion show in the city where we attended university. Her hair, make-up and nails were stunning and her wardrobe received a serious upgrade. But as soon as the show was over she couldn't wait to wash off the makeup and get back into jeans and a t-shirt. She smiled and, "I feel like me again." A few weeks later the same friends who were cheering her on at the fashion show tried to be a comforting presence following a family crisis. We saw her at her stage-ready best…and…at her most vulnerable. The key was that she let us share in both.
When we might wish to duck and cover; to retreat to the safety of privacy; well, that is exactly the moment we need to let people in and see us as we are. People who want us to just be "me again."
So how do we assess something others were never meant to see when things turn in unexpected or unimaginable directions? Far more important than the show going in is summoning the courage when life continues to move forward and we need help taking the next step. Perhaps the truth is that what we don't think people should see in us…is exactly what we should let them see. That's my outlook.