Lately I’ve been burning the candle at both of its proverbial ends. As you might guess from the photo, it involves a lot of community theater. For the past month or so, I’ve volunteered at the Lebanon Community Theatre just about every day after work, and for several hours on Saturdays and Sundays, learning the sound system and trying to handle mixing 16 microphones and a live band during the shows.
To be honest with you, I was not very good at the job.
Oh, I worked hard at doing the job.
I actually attended a dozen or so rehearsals just so I could memorize the show. I came early, made sure each mic had fresh batteries and each actor had what they needed. I stayed late and made the sure the entire system was prepped and ready for the next show. During the performances, I pushed the right buttons at the (mostly) right times. But I just don’t have an ear for sound mixing.
Now, I have a pretty wide skill set. My resume is chock full of experience that lends itself perfectly to a dozen different jobs inside a community theater. But they didn’t need those other things handled. They needed a sound guy.
I wish I’d been better at it. That is an awesome show with a powerful message. The cast was full of talented folks. They – and their audiences – deserved better.
Looking back, I realize things might have gone a little better if I’d shared with them some of my limitations instead of using the show as my personal impetus for pushing past them. But there were times when it took literally all I had just to walk from the parking lot to the building. Climbing the ladder up to that sound platform sometimes required reserves I didn’t know I had.
Missie – the show’s producer – was a (mostly) patient instructor and a genuine joy to work with. But we were a mismatch that might have been comical to watch. Her constant “up-ness” was a stark contrast to my physically required calm. I considered explaining myself once or twice, but each time I started to talk about it, what came out sounded to me more like an excuse than an explanation.
And these folks needed volunteers willing to go the distance. They certainly didn’t need someone who probably needed more assistance than he was there to provide.
In the end, I surprised myself.
Night after night of having to focus on the task at hand meant night after night of NOT having to dwell on my own crap. Sure, I had to excuse myself and find a place to sit down for as much of intermission as I could (reality cannot be escaped that easily!). But I got through it. More than that, I enjoyed my time getting through it.
When you consider where I was this time last year… I’ll take it.