Many years ago, I took the plunge and joined an amateur dramatic group.
The problem began when, having had such rave reviews in the local newspaper, we decided our next production simply had to be the sequel to that play. Delighted, I picked up my previous role again.
Halfway through the performance, I was throwing myself into the part of Pixie Potter, a scatter-brained hippy with my fellow thespian, Jim, when to my horror I found myself reverting back to the lines of our previous production. With a packed house I had no other option but to keep going. Actually, I was unable to stop. I was stuck fast in the lines from the previous play and I had no idea how to get out of them and back into this one.
I saw Jim’s eyes widen in disbelief – then panic – as it dawned on him what I’d done. The expression on his face never wavered but I could see his brain scrambling back over the months and through the pages of the previous play – until he realised where I was. Calmly, and without hesitation, he replied – from the previous play – and page for page we followed the old script.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see the prompter in the wings flicking frantically through the pages trying to find our lines, and I thought, ‘She’ll have a job! We’re in the wrong play.‘ Gareth, our producer – a man we were proud of; a man of great experience having produced a London show and only retired because of a heart condition, was standing behind the prompter gradually turning grey. Fortunately, years of experience stood him in good stead. Grabbing a member of the cast he placed his hands on her shoulders ready to push her on if we didn’t recover. The poor girl looked terrified.
By now we must have covered a page and a half of the previous play. Although, oddly enough, not a soul in the audience appeared to have twigged on.
The quiet prompt from the wings came suddenly and without warning. It gave Jim the line he needed. He leapt on it, caressing each word with relief as though it was a long lost friend. Generous actor that he was, he gave me a subtle hint and I was able to follow with the right response. Of course if he hadn’t … ! Amazingly, we received a standing ovation.
Yet despite the shambles, and Gareth having to take a pill, I learned an important lesson that night. It didn’t matter whether I was the leading lady, the prompter in the wings, making tea or was just an ‘extra’, the important thing was to do my part as best I could. And if I messed up? Then I had the rest of the production team to rely on.
Teamwork made us successful – despite our faults and inadequacies.
And that’s how we’ll beat this bug and anything else that comes our way as individuals, as families, or as a country. Teamwork! Each of us doing our bit and picking each other up when we mess up or fall down.