Passing On

When I was about six years old (thereabouts), my family took me to see a play. Come to think of it, since the play was Shakespeare’s Henry The VIII, I’m sure that I was simply along for the ride. I don’t remember that much about the play but I have two distinct memories of the experience that have influenced me in my choice to be a performer.

1) That one of the actresses onstage appeared to me to be the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
2) That when I met her after the show, I realized she was a person, wearing TONS of make up and that made me laugh. I got her autograph.

My father produced all manner of performances, from music to some early experiments in video. I was very lucky to see how theater and art was created and put up on stage, to meet actors before, during and after shows. I have no doubt that I looked up to them with huge saucer eyes, wondering how it was that grown ups got to play around onstage.

Cover to Cover is a special show for me for that reason. Not just because I’m co-directing it and performing in it, still getting to be a grown up who plays on stage, but because this is one of the first shows I’ve done, me now in my middle age, that my children and their friends (and their families) can come to and witness.

Friday and Saturday both proved to be full houses, and on each night there were many children there. I knew quite a few of them, from my son’s school. Little girls from 6-11 were seated in the audience, some wearing Nancy Drew outfits. All of us gave great show, cavorting like monkeys, solving mysteries, making people laugh and most of all connecting with a very special segment of the audience.

I saw one girl approach one of our actresses, a talented woman named Emma. The girl, with big saucer eyes, said to me in an awed whisper, “She was my teacher last summer!”

It was one of my happiest moments on that stage, after years of performing there. Not just because the audience was happy, but because I could see in that little girl’s face, and in the faces of the other kids, a spark being passed to them, from us. It might lead them into theater, but maybe not. Maybe it will just live inside them, the fact that all humans need to play, to create, no matter how old they get.

We pass things on, and we take the lessons passed on to us. We walk grooves in the earth so that it is easier for others to follow.

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