Benjamin's school had their arts festival today.
He was in a one-act play entitled Thank You For Flushing My Head In The Toilet. Yeah, it wasn't Shakespeare, but we were thrilled because he actually had lines!
To our surprise, our left-brain, science and math son is taking a drama class and loving it.
Being a former English major who went to graduate school to study film and theater, I was excited to see him on stage. Of course, whenever someone commented, "Maybe he'll follow in your footsteps," I immediately shut that down with, "No, he'll major in science or computers, but no arts!"
Yes, I want him to grow up and have an appreciation for the arts, but I also want him to go into a field in which he can be successful and is highly needed in this country. I know far too many arts majors who are either having to do something else to make a living or they are barely eking out a living.
Before I dropped him off early, Benjamin was telling me that he was nervous because he's never been on stage before, especially not speaking. I told him that all actors, even the famous ones, get nervous before their performances and that they take that nervous energy and use it. I also taught him some breathing lessons to calm him down.
No, I did not break out any Uta Hagen or Stanislavski on the boy. I did, however, tell him that I was proud of him. I know when I was his age, there would have been no way that you could've gotten me up on a stage and definitely not in a speaking part. I remember ducking down in my seat in English class whenever we were reading Shakespeare aloud in class and the teacher was giving out parts. I silently prayed that either she wouldn't pick me or she'd give me a one-line role. But did I?
No, of course, not.
I have far too many Charlie Brown moments to get that lucky.
Once, in college, we even went outside and the Shakespeare professor had students stand to form the exterior of the Globe Theater so we could get an idea of the size. Me and one girl were the last left and he told us, "Okay, you are Romeo and you are Juliet." He then had us read lines from the play and, as we did, would shout, "Louder! You need to enunciate so the whole theater can hear you!" Not a shining moment for me since all I wanted to do was disappear into the ground - or should I say groundlings?
I walked Benjamin in and, before leaving, joked, "Break a leg - just not your own!"
He rolled his eyes. Teenager!
Being a parent, I think I was more nervous than Benjamin and my stomach was in pretzel-knots as I waited for him to take the stage. And I would have to wait, as there were seven performances before his middle school drama class went on. Cava was quite the critic and would cover his ears if he didn't like someone's singing or playing of an instrument. Or he would motion in a way that one shoos off chickens. He did, however, pay close attention when his friend Tommy played violin or when his big brother was on-stage.
And when Benjamin was finally up there, I beamed proudly as I snapped photos of my son playing "Salesperson #6." He delivered his lines without missing a beat and did so in a manner, unlike his Papa did with Shakespeare, clearly and in a way that the audience could actually hear him.
And while there may not be any Tony Awards in his future, I could not have been prouder of how brave my son was for not only auditioning for a part in the play but for having the courage to go on that stage and speak lines in front of a packed theater.
That's why, when they finally took their bows, I clapped the loudest.
"Bravo, Benjamin! Bravo!"