Musical theatre workshops and productions

Blog 11 – Camels, shadows and show biz


I’ve seen the picture several times in Facebook.  You may very well have seen it, too.  Beyond the simple fascination with what is pictured, I’m struck by several lessons which the picture teaches.

  1. Shadows are so much larger than the realities they show. In my experience, this is true not only of pictures but of life.  A single negative experience – lasting mere minutes – can cast a shadow that extends for  decades.  One of life’s great challenges is to engage the spotlights of objectivity so that the lies of the shadows can be finally erased. In the theatre, we spotlight shadows, so the audience can feel connected to real life events.
  2. Because shadows are ambiguous, they can easily deceive us. Many times I have shared that painful element of theatrical life: the audition.  And, by definition, most auditions lead to rejection.  What shall I make of the rejection?  It’s ambiguous, after all.  I can read the tea leaves to proclaim that I have been unfairly judged, that someone else cheated, that the selection was rigged!  And if I allow my perception to be swallowed by that fog of negativity, I drive headlong off the cliff of reality into the free-fall of depression.  Now, that’s a shadow!
  3. Unlike Shadows, reality is bumpy. In the picture the shadows are elegant and dignified. I have ridden a camel, the ride is neither.  It is bumpy and unstable…just like life!  Beware of the tales that we tell of ourselves that erase the sharp edges. Creating a new musical is bumpy and there are road blocks that we must navigate. But in the end, we want to produce a piece that makes the audience laugh and cry. To achieve that we have to hang on and trust that reality is our best friend.

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