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Stage Fright This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   You know you are good because everyone says you are good, but you messed up twice yesterday and what if you blow it tonight.

And all night you have this unsettling dream that you are performing on an immense stage in a vast, dark, empty auditorium. The harsh buzz of your alarm jars you from a fitful sleep, and you awake with a vague, unplacable sense of apprehension. When you are fully conscious you remember why you are worried and your heart sinks.

You permit yourself a few extra moments in bed for a "pep-talk." You are good, you tell yourself, really good. It wasn't mere luck that landed you the lead in tonight's show. So what if it's in a small, obscure theater , you are just starting. And you'll be a success tonight, the way you almost always are.

You stretch as you realize you are failing to convince yourself, and that you sound like the countless well-intentioned friends and relatives who have recited this same speech so many times before, the words are meaningless. On the subway you join the throngs of strangers and imagine they are all taunting you, mocking your ambitions and desires, telling you that you will never be what you want to be. The thought is ludicrous, yet you notice that all these office-bound professionals appear so confident. And for a fleeting moment you wonder if perhaps you should have pursued a more stable career than acting , more mundane, probably even boring , but dependable, less unnerving.

You quickly shake the thought from your mind, for acting has been your passion since you were a little girl and your mother took you to see your first play. As you sat enraptured, mesmerized by the intricate costumes, breathtaking scenery, and skilled actors, you knew, all of a sudden, what you wanted to be.

Inside the theater is a confusion of actors, make-up and costume artists, and countless technical managers. The dressing room is strewn with colorful costumes and filled with actresses rushing around, squeezing themselves into outfits, exclaiming with delight or dismay. As you enter the chaos, you feel the heady rush of excitement, nervousness, and anticipation you always experience when you walk through this theater. You find a corner to sit down, and you glance at today's newspaper. You open to the review section, and imagine tomorrow's reviews, condemning the show, condemning you.

The minutes tick by as you prepare to go on stage and the whole time you are pleading with yourself, please remember all your lines, all your cues. And don't trip and make a fool of yourself. Suddenly it is eight o'clock; the curtain rises and somehow, miraculously, you ascend the stage, your heart pounding, your entire body quivering. Your mouth is so dry you think you will be unable to speak. And you keep begging yourself, please remember all your lines, please don't miss your cues, please don't trip.

And then it is over. It felt like two minutes instead of two hours and now it's over. You bow with the others during the curtain call, as the audience applauds loudly. A sense of relief fills you, yet you feel oddly disappointed, as if you had been waiting a lifetime for this moment, and it was, compared to your nightmares and fantasies, uneventful.

At the cast party, amidst a flurry of congratulations, and the next morning, reading the laudatory reviews, you are filled with reassurance. Elated, propelled by your newfound confidence, you quickly accept a director's offer to audition for his new show. But later, as you peruse the script, you feel a slight twinge of nervousness, and wonder whether you are good enough to get the part. n


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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thedaydreamer13 said...
May 3, 2009 at 9:54 pm
i have been in this situation many times!!! and at the end everything was okay... just like it says!! u did a good job on making it realistic!! :)
 
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