Watching Law IV yesterday brought back such a wave of nostalgia. I miss it all – the acting, the singing, the spotlights, the photoshoot, the curtain call, the backstage anxiety, the pre-show adrenaline rush.
It is easy to dismiss the attractions of the stage as narcissistic. There is fame, glamour, and spectacularity. There is busyness, self-importance, and catharsis.
But there are selfless allures too. On the stage, you get to step into someone else’s shoes for a moment, and to walk around in it. For a moment, you get to be someone you are not. That can be immensely liberating. Identity is usually more a home than a prison, but staying over at someone else’s house is empathy-inducing, horizon-broadening, and bloody fun. So it was with thorough enjoyment that I line-read as angry and vulgarity-spewing characters, auditioned as IAGO and PETER, sang Empty Chairs at Empty Tables and Stars, and played BENJAMIN.
Seeing the full-on show faces and hearing the swelling voices anamnesised these bone-deep experiences into the present. And after the show, we sat around reeling at the loss of those halcyon days when we would hang out in the auditorium, rush onto the stage, then head out for supper. Stress was only academic then after all.
That is the thing about nostalgia. Remembering the fullness of the past so fondly and so keenly only makes you all the more aware of the incompleteness of the present.