When I was five years old, I was assigned the part of the businessman in “The Little Prince.” I sat in a chair in the middle of the makeshift stage, practically swallowed whole by my father’s blazer and a hat that had to be pushed as far back as possible to keep it from completely covering my eyes. I don’t recall there being anything inherently humorous about the constant counting the businessman character did; so it must have been my appearance in my daddy’s clothes that brought me laughs so rich and warm that I never wanted to leave that chair. I fell in love with the dramatic arts that evening four decades ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
Sweating it out at the guan tonight, practicing the long staff form as best I could with a hampered wing, the lack of power on my right side was obvious. To make matters worse, I repeatedly made silly mistakes, based on misjudging distances that I should know like the back of my hand by now. At one point, I slid my hand so far down the staff, I was no longer holding it. On another repetition, I scraped the floor with it, which is never supposed to happen.
As the training wore on, I felt shadowed by younger versions of my theater-loving self: the junior high school student in tap shoes, the sixteen-year-old lead in the spring musical, the seventeen-year-old salaried wardrobe supervisor in a union dinner theater. What they all had in common was the repeated experience of dress rehearsals littered with faulty props, forgotten song verses, follow lights that were too slow and entrances that were too soon. The majority of productions I worked in or on had bad dress rehearsals. But as any stage rat will tell you, a bad dress rehearsal, in theater superstition, meant the cast would likely have a good show.
With Saturday morning just two and half days away, tonight was a pretty bad dress rehearsal in my martial arts life. I could use Thursday to iron out every nuance that I think still needs it, but my younger selves are telling me not to. They’re telling me to trust that tonight foreshadows a good show. They’re telling me to trust myself.