Burning Lights and Freezing Air

November 3, 2017
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The air was dark where I stood, chilling, a large contrast to the bright, warm stage lights seeping in throughout the area. It was silent backstage, disregarding the one or two anxious murmurs of those up next. Other than the shaking spreading throughout my body, I was frozen in place. I was up next. Snapping out of my temporary paralysis, I scurried over to the left and grabbed my script, re-reading my lines one last time. My mind raced with horrific images of ways I could mess up, or things could go wrong while I was up on stage. I flashed back to a memoir I had done in front of the class the prior year and began to shake again, this time even more. All of the silent stares, the errors, and the embarrassment, attacking and obliterating my thoughts and self esteem.
“And now, time for scene three!” one of the narrators said fervently, and I realized, I was up. Oh god, oh no. I am not ready for this. I briskly composed myself, taking a deep breath and adjusting my costume, then hurried up to the stage, fearing the absolute worse.
The lights there were blinding, and immediately my breathing hastened. The spotlight was hot, intense, as it seemed to burn straight through me. There was a suffocating humidity throughout the air, making breathing an enormous challenge. My thoughts seemed as if they were racing each other, trying to see which could be the fastest, along with the most petrifying. Fear circled and surrounded my vision, the audience filled with shadows of parents all staring towards the stage, with expressions that were unreadable. I played a rude, confident character, but all my posture said was, “I’m scared.” As I continued to stare off into the never ending rows of people, I realized, it was my line. I freaked out. What- what is it?! I can’t remember my line! Oh no, oh no, oh no! I can not believe this is happening!
Them, all of a sudden, my mind cleared, and and I automatically repeated the over-rehearsed line. Other than slight stutter, it was perfect! I felt my confidence spike, just a small jump, but it was something. After my next, perfectly timed line, it quickly began to soar. Time flew by, and before I knew it I was off of the stage, the audience clapping as the narrators re-entered to continue their act. I did it! I actually did it!
I had a few more roles that I had to play later on, but now, instead of feeling powerless to terror, I only felt an almost overwhelming amount of exhilaration. The air seemed to clear, I could now breath. It was no longer cold and unwelcoming, but instead energetic and exhilarating. I rushed over to the next spot I needed to be in order to enter the stage, hopeful for my next role. Walking onto the stage, I felt a surge of confidence. This time after I entered the stage my eyes were more adjusted to the bright lights, and I could now see the expressions on the audience’s faces’. They were smiling and laughing. How could I not tell before? They’re enjoying it! This time, while I was on stage, I was more animated, too. The stage lights were warm and inviting now, pleading for me to stay longer. The air filled with an unmistakable excitement. I wanted to have more lines, to be there more, but alas, my role was done. As I left the stage, I could hear the audience’s laughter and cheers. Right after walking off stage, the teacher gave me praise over my performance, “Liz! You did amazing out there! I loved your expression!”
I cherished this, as praise from her is exceptional, and I could not help but feel significant pride in myself. Disappointment filled me as I realized the show was over, but I was now eager for the next one.






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