Center Stage

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A sensation of sporadic energy washes over me as I walk to the large wooden doors, leaving behind me the black box after a prayer circle. This is the calm before the storm to a performer. I stand with the large doors in front of me. The light mahogany color penetrates my eyes. On the door are large metal hinges, and huge handles, the door opens very wide, but is difficult to move. I place my hands onto the large handles and brace myself and let my body fall backward to pull it open. In front of me is complete darkness. The only light is seeping its way from behind the velvet curtains that conceal me and the other actors. The curtains reach all the way across the stage in billowing heaps of fabric. However, just below you can see the glow of the house lights, normally you hear the bustling crowd of families, friends, and visitors finding their seats, and hiding their concessions from the ushers. I look at the curtains and trace my eyes up to the baton which holds them. It is a long sturdy black pole that was suspended from the chains which hang from the grid, or as we call it, “The Heavens.” The Heavens is, to me, a representation of the entire atmosphere of the theater.

As well as beauty above me, there is beauty below me. Beneath my feet is the stage floor. It is covered in layers upon layers of peeling paint. There is a story to each layer though. If I sit down on the tacky painted wooden floor, I can peel each layer off. Though it may be detrimental to the set, the memories it gives me are fond. Just by gently scraping the top layer, I can begin to see “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” paint beneath it. If I crawl a bit further on the sticky panels, I get to the front of the stage. I lie on my stomach, and press my ear against the hollow shell that is holding me up. Beneath me now is the pit.

The call for the dress rehearsal is not for another twenty minutes, so I decide to take an adventure. I get off the ground, and make my way across the set. I blindly walk through the darkness. After my shin has been harshly introduced to every set piece possible, I have made it to the wings. The grey lack luster cement beneath me is hard and cold. There is door on the right hand side of the left wing. I let my hand search for the door handle and find it. Opening the door I fling myself inside to where there is light. Now I graze my hand across the navy blue hand rail, it is bumpy and nearly leaves frost on my skin; it leads me down the shallow stairs to the pit. There are three separate landings on this stair case. The one you begin on, one in the middle, then after a sharp right turn, you make it to the final bottom of the pit. The front of the pit is a tall cement wall, with an off white color to it. In front of this wall is the platform that the band conductor sits on. During the show she typically sits on a big arm chair. Comfort is after all, very important. The temperature in this part of the theater is very cold, and it is not very bright. It has a sense of eeriness, and discord. That however, is the exact quality that attracts me.

I walked back up the winding stairs and decided to visit the light and sound booth. I pushed my way through the large curtains and sat on the edge of the stage. Rather than taking the ramp into the audience, I decided to jump down. The backs of my calves touched the cold, dark blue, cement that was the front of the stage. I pushed myself down and my feet collided with the carpet. Walking through the audience is strange. I stood back and viewed the stage as the audience sees it. I rarely see this point of view, I have the opposite, but I would not change it for the world. I turned back around and walked up the isle to the back of the theatre. The chairs are comfortable looking. Lined up in straight rows, and numbered, no sense of disorganization here is present. However, they are all battle scarred. Just the ones I see in my peripheral vision scream their horror stories to me. They have been drawn on with ink from bored teens, stuck with gum from disrespectful audiences, and walked over, and stepped on by children. Each one abused in some way or another, testimony to the mistreatment of our theater. Once I make my way to the back of the auditorium, I turn an immediate right, and go to the elevator to take me to the booth.

I press the up button on the elevator and wait. I hear it make its slow and unsteady journey to me. The clunking and clinging I hear inside never bothers me. It has been this way forever. Once it gets to me, its doors open, and I step inside over the metal grates of the entrance. This elevator smells putrid. Something went mildew in it a long time ago, and it was never cleaned properly, but, it would not be my elevator anymore if it were to be cleaned. I came to terms with my fondness of it long ago. Once I hit the yellow tinged button inside, I wait for the doors to slide shut, and for the thrilling ride to start up. The doors shut slowly after a minute or so. I brace myself for the kick as it begins. It is slow, bumpy, and frightening, but I smile and enjoy the sounds of the chain and pulley system bringing me up.
Once it finally docks itself at the top, the doors open, and I slip out. In front of me is a lot of fine pieces of technology, if you live in year 2004. To the right is a large tower of sound technician equipment. Nobody quite knows how it works, but we all pretend so anyway. It has many lights on it, green, red, blue, and all blinking wildly. There are nobs, and buttons, and sliding gadgets all up and down its exterior, with cords coming out of every socket. To the left, is a simple desk, with an old CD playing sound systems sitting on top of each other. Next to that is a board of more buttons, nobs, and sliders. To the right of the desk is an empty space with a window for viewing the stage. If I lean too far into the window, I fear of falling because it is slanted and unsteady, and it is a long fall. On the other side of the window is another desk, this one with Light equipment. A large board with mostly sliding levers, and buttons, all of which are barely used except for the button that exclaims “Go!” in white ink. To the right of the board is a very old black computer. On its screen is large green letters and numbers. The computer is virtually useless, and is only operable through the light board. Its mouse is a circle ball in a platform. I slide my hand across its smooth surface, and get my skin caught a little as I pull it too far to the edge. Behind where I am standing is a sofa, this is a new addition to the booth. If you walk down farther in the booth there is a bathroom. The only guaranteed clean, odorless, and stocked up on toilet paper and soap bathroom in the whole school. Why? Nobody ever uses it. Next to the bathroom door is another very heavy, and always locked, door. It leads to the catwalk and is locked because of the hazard within it. The catwalk is a series of black, metal grated stairs. Your shoes get caught, metal chains and rods reach out to catch you, and at the end are the lights for adjusting, and no bar to keep you from falling forward.
Rehearsal will start soon. I take the rickety ride back down my rancid elevator, and walk back through the audience seats, and stand in front of the stage. I put my arms on the front, and pull myself up to sit once again, on the hollow shell of the pit. I stand up, and walk to the middle of the stage. The curtains have been opened while I was exploring. I look out at the audience, and hold my arms out while the stage lights warm my skin. Goosebumps form all over my body as the warm embrace takes me over. I feel peace, this is my safe haven. There is no other spot in the world, where you feel such love. There are people behind, in front, below, above, and next to you on stage, all of them who are rooting for a good outcome and putting all their hard work into something of equal interest. People start piling onto the stage and in through the doors for our final dress rehearsal, but amongst the noise and commotion I am motionless, because I hear something different than them. The angels, center stage is where angels sing.





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