It’s Chapter 5 of Lauren Margison‘s series, The Cardinal Diaries: A Case of The “Post Show” Blues! If you missed the first four instalments, you can read them here: chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, and chapter four. Below, our titular soprano grapples with a case of the post-show blues & questions the very nature of performance – both on and off stage.
The rhythmic clickity clack of my boots against the pavement counted out the beats like a metronome as I plodded home from the subway. I was twisting myself into a knot going over the events of the evening. The more I thought about it, the more abstract the performance felt.
There is something about music that stands defiantly against the harness of reality, however, once the moment is over, reality has a funny way of creeping back in with a vengeance. The opening night party quickly shot me back to earth like a cork shooting from a bottle of champagne. I was never entirely able to understand why I always felt so out of place at opening night parties, yet the realization accidentally came to me this very evening. It still wasn’t me out there thanking people for their kind words of congratulation.
It was someone between myself and whatever character I had just inhabited on stage. It was that strange middle ground straddling fantasy and reality… Cardinal the performer, and Cardinal the human. There was still an air of performance to those hours post performance. The rhythmic sound of my heels brought me back to me, and I heaved a sigh.
“So, what’s next for you?” The question rang in my ears like an alarm. How many times this very night had I been asked this question? More than I was keen to recall. Sometimes this perennial question is posed with genuine excitement and curiosity, sometimes with an imperious scrutiny. Every time it feels like a test without a correct answer. A well disguised trick question. At times it’s difficult to suppress the urge to respond, “well, directly after this I’ll probably go home and order a pizza,” however, I manage to restrain myself. Instead, I force a slightly uncomfortable laugh, and recite a short (or, hopefully, long!) list of my schedule.
It always puzzles me why we can’t live in the afterglow of the performance that just occurred, instead of perpetually looking ahead. It seems that the future is what is seen to hold value, which is funny, since it doesn’t truly exist. My philosophical musings ended abruptly as I rounded the corner to see my building. Once inside the apartment, I quickly removed the horrid shapewear used to make me appear smaller than I was and put on a pair of sweatpants and a cozy pullover. As soon as this was accomplished, off came the false eyelashes, and the many layers of makeup until I finally saw myself again. The siren call of the couch was too tempting to resist, though not tempting enough to respond to
without first pouring myself a generous glass of wine. I had already ordered a pizza earlier with a scheduled delivery time. I glanced at the clock on the oven and smiled. It should be arriving within fifteen minutes.
I used the few minutes I had before the pizza arrived to pick a movie to watch. It was late, but I was full of adrenaline and caffeine from a necessary intermission espresso. I could feel the loneliness of post performance lurking in the shadows of my mind, so I picked a comfort movie to keep me company and make me laugh. The pizza buzzed just as Dick Van Dyke was hitting the chorus of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” As the credits began to roll, I dragged myself back up to a seated posture after the necessity of loosening the drawstring on my pants and slowly slumping into a horizontal position on the couch. I clicked the TV
off with a yawn and looked at the many crusts scattered about the pizza box.
I tried to eschew the societally ingrained guilt placed on the shoulders of anyone who would dare to eat pizza while living in a body that doesn’t wear a size XS. I wasn’t feeling great. I couldn’t tell if it was the post performance blues, the wine, the pizza, or the fact that I could recite an unsettling amount of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” but something about the scene in front of me felt like the antithesis of the glitz and glamour so often associated with the performing arts.
That wasn’t the reality though. Everybody on every stage of the world shares the common bond of being human. Flawed and beautiful. Strong and weak. Simple and complex. Sometimes that meant standing on a stage in front of thousands, sometimes it meant sitting alone on a couch in front of an empty pizza box, but I was finally starting to believe that essentially it meant trying one’s best, whatever that best may be.
Lauren Margison is a singer and writer from Toronto, Ontario. A graduate of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble Studio, and the Atelier lyrique of the Montreal Opera. She was a first prize winner of the George London Competition. Lauren continues her vocal training under the tutelage of Richard Margison and Valerie Kuinka.