I have never been that interested in being on stage. I ended up there once – hooked into the chorus of a high school “Once Upon a Mattress” production because my girlfriend was playing the princess. The director wisely placed me next to the girl who could sing the loudest to drown out my croaks. After that experience, I was more than happy to just toil around backstage, but I have remained pretty entranced by the people who have the guts and skill to perform.
But I have had a weird mix of feelings in respect to my children auditioning. My eldest daughter snagged one of the leads in Theatre IV’s production of “Hansel and Gretel” several years back, which I think she enjoyed, and she was the lead in her middle school production of “The Quiltmaker’s Gift.” But still, she never seemed really compelled to be on the stage. Happy when she was there, but not always thinking about trying to get back. Which was all fine with me: though I of course think she is enormously talented, I don’t think she was born to be on stage. An acting life doesn’t quite fit her temperament, at least in my opinion.
But I’m a little less laissez-faire about my son, mostly because I think he could be pretty good. And if you think this is JUST filial devotion talking, it’s also tempered with some cold, hard critical calculations. Chief among these is that he’s small for his age; he’s 7 years old but could easily play 4. He got kind of a stunt casting gig for Theatre IV many years ago. It didn’t require a lot of skill on his part, but it did inspire what I still consider one of my best pieces of writing (still findable in the dungeons of Style’s archives).
Anyway, I dropped him at Theatre IV for auditions earlier this week and ran into many familiar parents, hauling their next generation talents in for a shot at “Christmas Story” and “Peter Pan.” My boy might still be a little young and inexperienced for a role this time. And that’ll be fine. But if not today, I do hope he gets his shot someday because I think he would thrive in the theater. And as long as parents like me keep encouraging our kids to give an audition a shot, theater will continue to thrive. Because there will continue to be generations of kids who grow up wanting to encourage their children to do the same. Even if they never wanted to be on-stage themselves.