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February 9, 2010
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Commotion: it was the wafts of hairspray that clouded the west wing; it was the clack of shoes that raced about the halls; it was the plague of anxiety that plastered itself among the freshly made-up faces. Butterflies. They filled the stomachs of the cast. Butterflies. They caused thoughts to race. Butterflies. They made pulses quicken. Butterflies. The plague of the theatre. A particularly anxious cast member stood silent and still, awaiting her microphone. The butterflies fluttered about in her gut, twice as much as any other cast member. The butterflies shredded at her stomach with their razor wings. This, however, she would not show. The pain and discomfort were feelings she would push away, no matter how many times they returned. This was because she knew it was on this evening she would shine as the new lead. The uneasiness she experienced was only a reminder of this; it was horrible, and it was wonderful. Her heels clacked down the hall gently as she moved closer to backstage. The butterflies attempted to take over once more, but she buried them under the reassurance that tonight was hers for the taking. She reached for the handle of the heavy backstage door. Cool under her sweaty palm, she pulled the door handle open and took her spot in the darkness that was the stage. In her ready position, she listened to the harmony of voices beyond the curtain. The voices started to intimidate her, which caused the butterflies to return. She pushed them away and tried to focus on her lines. She repeated her script word for word. Though, somehow, she could not concentrate. The darkness began to consume not only the stage, but also her. The blackness engulfed her, it was her only surrounding, and the only thing she could feel in her presence. Abruptly, A razor began to cut her stomach. She knew the butterflies were back with a vengeance. Before she could bury them, the curtain opened and a light shattered the darkness.

The brightness may have killed the black that surrounded the stage, but it did nothing to diminish the butterflies. They fluttered and jerked in her insides while her exterior remained a statue. Her mind raced as she searched for her first line; however she could not find it. She was too distracted by the butterflies in her stomach and the people in the audience. After several moments of panic, she swallowed her feelings of doubt and anxiety. She delivered her first line. The butterflies continued to flutter in her gut, despite her astounding line deliverance. She fumbled while she tried to seem as if she were in character. Awkwardly, she slid aside, allowing the next actor to perform. Eventually finding something to do, she attempted to calm the butterflies that plagued her. Then a thought came to her, it was similar to the light that broke the black around the stage. Tonight was her night to shine. Tonight, she would be the star. It was at that moment when the butterflies vanished. Their razor wings no longer destroyed the nerves of Lillian. Lillian sensed the absence of the butterflies, and settled into her role with relief. From that point on, each line was delivered better than the first. This caused Lillian’s confidence to rise along with her excitement, for this was truly her night. The audience failed to notice the awkwardness Lillian experienced. In fact, they found it added to the character. They laughed at inflicted humor, they silenced at intended seriousness. The audience loved the play, which allowed the actors to love the audience. When positive energy killed the plague of butterflies, Lillian and all other actors found themselves at their best performance.

The final scene came about quicker than the performers preferred. Some actors optimistic, some pessimistic; no matter the case they all became aware that the end was near. What this meant was no more practices that run into the late evening, no more theatre games. No more inside jokes, no more ridiculous memorization. It was a situation for the better and for the worse that would lead to glee and disappointment. Bittersweet was the one word that best fit the circumstances. Though, to Lillian, the end meant so much more “bitter” than “sweet”. The theatre was the air Lillian needed to breathe and the stamina that she needed to keep going; it was Lillian’s world. The world could offer nothing better than the thrill of the last performance as the star. Lillian lived this. Though it was just one night, it did not matter. She still lived it. As the entire cast took the stage one last time, Lillian spoke her final line as star of the production. The lights faded and the darkness engulfed the stage. Only this time Lillian was not fazed. The cast took their last bows, the audience gave a standing ovation, and Lillian became the most ecstatic actress to ever perform. From a measly four-line part to the lead of the show, Lillian faced a great challenge. It was this challenge she overcame with grace and beauty. As if she were a new flower in the prime of spring. It was now time for the curtain to close and for the audience to leave. As the red velvet fabric began to hide the stage, Lillian found a single tear roll down the side of her cheek, followed by several more. She was not alone. The majority of the cast was as well, in happiness of their excellent performance and in sorrow because it was their last. For Lillian, she knew there would be more. Perhaps not with the same director, perhaps not on the stage, but there would be more. This was Lillian’s passion, her love, her fate; and no godforsaken butterfly was going to take that from her.

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