the 1st show is today

We’ve reached the day of the show.

Fear is an amazing motivator.

For 5 weeks I’ve told them everyday that time was at a premium but it never struck home until the first thing this morning. I said “The first show is tomorrow.” Now mind you I’ve announced this everyday for the past week–how long we had until the show.

The first response was “You mean tomorrow, tomorrow?” “Yes that’s what I mean” “We really don’t have time do we?” was the surprised reply. Several youth got nervous and wanted to ask a million questions. What will we wear? Have they called our families? Where are we performing? They had all been answered before. “It’s okay to be nervous. It means you serious about this,” I said. “I’m not nervous!” one young man said. “It’s ok” I reassure him “we all get nervous, I’ve been doing this for 35 years and I get nervous. It means you’re alive” He’s having none of it. “I’m not nervous.” “ok,” I say “here’s what happens when each of you get nervous” and I describe how one looks up for the line they can’t remember, another fidgets, another looks at me for constant approval, one zones completely out and the speaker talks at an alarming rate. As I describe what they do, each one nods in recognition. Just last week there would have been subtle grumblings about me dissing them, but they have progressed. We do a line through where they’re made to ride cues and pick up energy from each other. Their fear is making them pay attention, but the focus is still off. I go to the art room and check on the backdrop (another story for another time) and when I return we start a run through and we make it through. One of my young men is still determined to sabotage himself by just stopping and shouting, “Hey can I try something different!” It’s not really a question but an attempt to get a reaction from Ahanti, Chadwick or me so we can argue and not finish the task at hand.

Afterwards one of the boys comes to me and says _______ told me he’s going to sabotage the show in the cottage after the run. I confront him not mentioning the other youth. He denies it. We do another run and he steps up his game to match the rest. We have 2 complete runs with stumbles, but we make it to the end. I still don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It’s their hardest audience first. Their peers, each of them is terrified of looking soft. That’s the worst thing you can be called in this situation. I know they won’t. In 13 years they haven’t, and I don’t expect this show to be different. They’re primed for an audience now all they have to do is have more faith in themselves than they fear what others will think. What will happen? Who knows?

this weeks sample:
I was a…
I was a lost black kid
: Outsider
Always on the fringe of society
Forest walker
A walker of a lonely world
oath breaker
who couldn’t keep his word
: thought keeper
who lived in his head
family breaker
who was able to destroy his own family
Traveler of the world.

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