Last night, just before the second-to-last performance of Agamemnon, I was suffering through a nasty round of illness (related to a chronic thing I really don't want to write about here), and about 15 minutes before showtime, I had to inform the director, Barry Cavin, that I really didn't think I would be able to make it through the performance. He simply said don't worry, that he'd talk to the other cast members, and they would cover for me.
What I hated about that moment was the admission that the illness was besting me, an admission of being weak, of needing to step aside, and so it was humiliating--of course, I had to let the director know, just so he could bolster up the cast.
After I returned from the restroom, just to splash a little water on my face, to regain my bearings and to refresh with the night air, the cast members came to me, said it wouldn't be a problem, telling me that they really wanted me to make it through the performance. My sister chorus members, Brittney Brady, Dana Jenkins, and Veda Roberts were especially empathetic and supportive (they dedicated a number of power lines to me), and it made me all weepy, really, to receive their generous words and understanding. And the rest of the cast, including Brad, Nate, Kaitlyn, Tyler (her last words to me were especially dear), Kiara, Ryan, Ben, Casey, and Gabby, were also warmly encouraging. What was liberating was that each affirmed that I didn't have to go on, which gave me some space and time to breathe and recollect myself. I allowed myself the possibility of not having to go on so that I wouldn't have to worry about it. It was that simple.
As it turned out, I made it through the whole performance, and probably in its totality, it was the best performance of the run--among the chorus, we had greater urgency--and with the full house, we all were able to feed off the energy from the audience. At the end, I was dehydrated, but none too worse for the wear, and there was just a simple shared giddiness of all of us making it through and doing such a good job of it. And also as it turned out, this was the performance my son was able to attend, flying down from Evansville for a quick weekend visit.
So now the run is over, the stage is struck, and it's back to my more normal grind. The play and playing, though, are still very much with me, still electric and alive yet. And this time, I'm just feeling more grateful than usual.