Don't you love it when life sends you chasing down rabbit holes and you pop up somewhere totally unexpected?
Ten years ago, I was married to a sports-mad soccer and rugby player. I still am - but last night I sat in a packed theatre and watched a pantomime that he both co-wrote and directed, warmed by my pride in both him and everything that Upstagers Theatre Group achieves.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
If you had told me that creating award-winning shows for young people would become my husband’s all-consuming passion, I would have laughed. Before all this, he didn’t even go to the theatre unless I suggested it. It wasn't that he was anti- the-arts or anything heinous like that. They just didn’t seem to be part of who he was.
Enter our children stage left. This is how it all began. One year, our eldest daughter auditioned for a part as a dancer in the pantomime and was lucky enough to get in. Her sisters and brother followed in her wake and soon there wasn’t a show that did have one or more of their names in the programme.
Joseph and the Amazon Technicolor Dreamcoat
And, as I’m sure you know, if you can be interested in your kids’ interests it makes for an easier life. So, my husband volunteered to help backstage. He didn’t really know what was involved but he was happy to learn, and he got to wear black clothing and a radio mic – who wouldn’t love that!
He kept showing up and learning and then before we knew it, he had gone from being a spare pair of hands in the wings to a trustee on the board. Now he is as heavily involved in the amateur theatrical world as I am in the publishing one.
I suppose there are two things that I really want to say about this. The first is to remind myself to embrace every opportunity that comes my way. The joy that performing has brought to my family is too enormous to be described by words alone. You have to see it in action to fully appreciate its impact. Also, the friendships that my children have made from those shared show experiences are heart-deep and lifelong. None of us had any idea how important the theatre company would have become to them.
The second thing is to mention the importance of volunteers. Without those wonderful souls who are prepared to give up their own time to help others then many of these opportunities would just never be created in the first place. Each time a new production hits the stage I sit in the auditorium bursting with pride for every single member of cast and crew and all that they achieve.
So, let’s hear it for chasing down unexpected rabbit holes, and shooting your hand up to the sky to volunteer.
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