I've been having weird dreams this past week about Candide. They usually occur right before I wake up. I'll be dreaming about a point in the play and I'll think, 'Oh, I should check that out next time I watch the production.'
Then, I wake up and realize that it's all over and I'll never see it again. It reminds me of the acceptance speech Robert Altman gave at the Oscars a few years ago when he won an honorary Oscar. He compared his style of movie making to building a sand castle with friends and then watching the tide come in and wash it away; all that's left are the memories of a great day. My only issue with that comparison is that with a movie, at least one has the finished product preserved for all time on celluloid.
But the comparison holds true for theater. Never again will I have the chance to watch Candide as it was staged at the Arden Theatre. All I have left are the memories of the production. The tide in the form of the strike crew has come in and washed away the set and costumes and lights and left the sand for another production to build on.
I feel that life is like that as well. We go through stages that sometimes evoke great emotions and then after we're through that stage, we are left with the memories. I visited a friend from People's Light earlier this week who has 2 young children. As I chatted with her and played with her toddler I was nostalgic for when my children were that young and we had all these years ahead of us. Now, my children are a bit older and we've built several sand castles together and they are starting to build their own as well.
I ache when I think back on some of my memories; I ache to relive the emotion that I felt at the time. The joy in my daughter riding a bicycle, the proud sadness of watching my son go to school, the laughter around a fire on a lazy Sunday afternoon. These moments form the path of our lives and in these moments and many others--those that fraught with deep emotions like a funeral or a wedding--that we form our true selves.
Theater, I think, gives us access to those emotions as well as many others; grief, anger, despair to name a few. For the short span of a play or musical, we connect and identify with the emotional lives of the characters and recognize in them something of our own lives. Often, it is through this recognition, that we discover new ideas and new ways of seeing ourselves and the world around us. And yet, after the final curtain, the tide washes the play out to sea and we have our memories.
So, while Candide has left with the tide, I will always remember it fondly because it has changed the way I see myself as a Stage Manager. I have a new found confidence; I no longer shrink with insecurity at what I don't know because I realize I have the knowledge within me to figure it out.
But now, it's time to build other sand castles.