My Midlife Crisis
Shakespeare once wrote the golden line that lives on in history, "To be, or not to be" in Hamlet. When Hamlet is saying this line, he is asking himself, "To live, or not to live." I was faced with a similar boggle a couple of years ago, "To act, or not to act." Acting has been my life for as long as I can remember. It has been my personal savior to be free of all rules, be able to open up what I am feeling and thinking. On the stage, I have been able to release the dark, hateful Macbeth, or the light, kind-hearted Mercutio within me. The stage is where I have met many of my close friends, colleagues and my one true love. I attribute a lot of my happiness to the stage. The stage to me is like family or a close friend. It is always there, and it seems to have all the answers. Friends and family should not stab one another in the back, but that is exactly what I did to the stage. At least that is how I felt during a play audition in late March 2002. On that fateful day, I walked down the never-ending aisle of the theatre one afternoon to audition for a school play. I sat in a blood colored seat in the soothing auditorium with all the other eager thespians anxious to audition for Shakespeare’s "The Comedy of Errors." I was then handed a script for the play to read a scene on stage. I then was handed an audition form. The canary yellow paper drew me in as I gazed at it. I proceeded to fill out the necessary information required of me for the show:
NAME: Sean Powers
Can you sing: no
DESIRED ROLE: ANY.
Finally, I came across the scheduling conflicts section on the backside of the sheet. I bit the dry flesh of my lip with my teeth as I read through the rehearsal dates. Suddenly the yellow paper seemed jaundiced. I put down my writing implement, and pondered what days I could come for rehearsal. Due to my busy schedule and desire to get into the best University, my conscience kept telling me not to try out for the play, and to just leave. I thought about it. I had never once before walked out of an audition. I was trapped with a difficult decision to make. Should I stay in this holy palace [the theater] and continue with the audition, or should I pick up my feet and gracefully drag myself out of the theatre and leave? I was in somewhat of a trance while sweat ran down my face. My legs were shaking. I did not know what to do. Suddenly, a girl auditioning for the play asked me to perform a scene with her on stage. I said enthusiastically, "Sure”. She pointed out the scene she wanted me to perform with her, and in a few moments' time we went on stage. The director nodded his head to signal the start of our scene. We performed it, and I felt alive. My heart was beating, but somehow, I knew what I had to do by the time I stepped off the stage. I did not return to my seat. I just kept walking. I walked past the director, my classmates, and finally, the frowning auditorium doors.
I was distraught about my decision, but I knew it was what I had to do. I felt like Brutus stabbing Julius Caesar in the back. I was stabbing the theatre in the back, and there was no return.
I told my parents what I did, and they were proud of me, they said, "It's all part of growing up." For some reason their words did not heal my misery. The next day, one of the highly respected drama teachers at school asked me how auditions went. I laid down the news of my unprecedented relinquishment. I was expecting an appalled look on his face from my actions, but it was the opposite. He understood that my choice was tough, but it is "It's all part of growing up." My sunny disposition once more shined through my face, and as the weeks progressed, I learned to get over my guilt trip of transition from boy to man. Sure, I was still devastated for a long month and a half, and I felt like my organs were about to burst when I saw the show, but I knew that more moments like this would arise in my life as I matured more and more, and all I could do was handle each little situation.
My obsession for the stage took sometime to diminish. I continued to audition for several plays until I finally stopped. Right now I am a journalist, director, and a writer. My choice to quit the stage was like losing my first love, and as I learned to cope with my loss I realized that it is not about what you are in life, but what you make of yourself. I do not have to act to be an actor; I will always be an actor inside.