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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Often... Frequently

The Pirates of Penzance opens tonight.

Since its premier in 1879 (a dual premier in New York City and England to prevent, ironically, piracy) The Pirates of Penzance has had a lot of opening nights, in most countries around the world, whether or not they speak English. Or understand the English and their peculiar, quaint sense of humor.

Sorry, "humour."

Anyway, whenever it is time for another opening night, people invariably ask the question, "Are you excited?" And they always put the emphasis on the word "excited" which, I suppose, would be the logical choice there.

I hate to give the true answer, because it never fails to disappoint the people expecting a resounding "YES!" The truth, though, is that I'm not ever excited for opening night, or any night thereafter. I'm anxious, my bowels are in a state of absolute turmoil, I'm incessantly running through lyrics and tonalities in my head to stave off a spot-lit brain fart, I'm mentally and physically exhausted.

Oh, and did I mention I've been defecating at least five times a day recently? Would you be excited about that?

I realize that, in the hundreds of thousands of opening nights The Pirates of Penzance has enjoyed (and I'm sure sometimes "endured"), from music hall to concert hall performances, to professional to semi-professional to amateur to boarding school stagings all over the world, my production will barely be a hiccup in the overall scheme of Gilbert & Sullivan-ism, but it is my opening night.

I just can't seem to get excited about it.

When I was an EMT, random people-- family members, friends, patients, nurses, my supervisors-- would ask me with a smile, "So, do you like your job?" I would always smile back and answer, "No." Of course, looking back on it now, I realize that I really did like my job, and maybe I realized it then, too. Maybe I just like the look of utter consternation that ripples over peoples' faces when you give them the unscripted answers to life's formulaic questions. I don't, though, like opening nights. To me, they are an endless fathom of potential cockups, clusterfucks, missteps, trips, traps, falls, failures, and voice cracks. The chances that everything goes off without a hitch are non-existent.

I know, I know. I'm a pessemist and an alarmist and a nervous nellie and a catastrophist. Thank my mother-- I get it all from her. She'll be at the Saturday matinee-- you'll know her because she'll be the one wearing the HAZMAT suit in case Al Qaeda decides to launch a holy jihad against amateur Gilbert & Sullivan performances.


  1. "Maybe I just like the look of utter consternation that ripples over peoples' faces when you give them the unscripted answers to life's formulaic questions."

    I used to have a friend -- still do have them, I guess -- who when a waitress would ask how she was doing today, she would give her a proper reply as to how exactly she was doing. I was reminded of that.

    It seems almost like you shouldn't enjoy being an EMT, although you did and just didn't realise it.

    Finally, given how almost complacent you are about opening nights being full of cockups and mishaps does it not seem almost counter intuitive to be at the same time nervous about it? Things will go wrong, they do everywhere, all the time, you accept this and know it's not the worst thing that could happen -- and yet you are worried about it at the same time?


  2. Opening night!

    Good luck, good luck, good luck! Guten lucken -- verboten, vishing luck...!

    *sings a little ditty that far excels any ol' Gilbert & Sullivan*

  3. break a leg! knock 'em dead.

    and as a weird side note, i thought you wrote manatee instead of matinee. odd, no?

  4. Break a leg! I hope it goes as well as the opening night performance I just went to see!


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