We have all had that experience. When you are preparing for something big, whether it be a performance, a presentation at work or school, you have nightmares of the absolute worst case scenario. You wake up in a cold sweat, thankful it was only a dream.
For a performer, it often involves forgetting all of your lines, or the director changing the show at the last minute to something you have never heard of. Either way, it is absolutely terrifying.
Well, I made my murder mystery dinner theater debut last Friday and unfortunately the wrong kind of dream became a reality. I wanted to challenge myself and do a kind of theater I had never done. More importantly, I wanted to do something that did not rely on my singing. Up ’til now, I’ve always considered myself a singer who acts, but I want to become more experienced and well-rounded as an actor. So I auditioned for and was cast in a Dickens inspired murder mystery.
My role in this particular show has the most lines of any character and we only had one rehearsal before opening. Talk about challenging, but I guess I kind of asked for it.
I have never felt more unprepared in my life. What followed was what I would say was the worst performance of my acting career. I dropped lines. I said the wrong lines at the wrong times, all while feeling like I was drowning in a room full of people.
Needless to say, I could not wait for the night to be over. I got in my car and made the long trek home, questioning whether I had made a huge mistake and if I was cut out to pursue a career in theater.
The trouble was that I had less than 24 hours to lick my wounds before I had to perform again. In hindsight, I’m very thankful that that was the case. I was able to get back on the horse quickly without feeling sorry for myself for too long. I had to get better and fast.
My ego took a huge hit, but my failure also made me realize that I have a lot of work to do. No one said that pursuing my dream would come easy. If it did, then everyone would be doing it. Unfortunately, some dreams turn into nightmares. But the sun comes up in the morning and you have another day to work hard, do something you love, and get better.
I’m happy to report that Saturday’s performance went a million times better and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity to improve.
When pursuing your dream, nightmares come with the territory. But don’t let them scare you. Use them as a barometer for your ego and a catalyst to get better.