The Debut

July 16, 2008

My eldest wants to be an actress. She joined a drama group this year and recently performed on stage for the first time. All of the other kids in the group had been acting together for years. I wondered how Kat would shape up compared to them. 

The night I drove her to the theatre prior to her performance she was buzzing.  She wasn’t nervous and she didn’t rehearse her lines in the car. She was chatty and excited. I don’t think she realised it, but she spoke to me in an English accent.  I didn’t comment on this to her at the time. I didn’t want to interrupt her funk (or whatever it is actors need to do prior to these things: move outside of themselves or get into a flow).

I had tickets for the whole family for the following night’s performance. At the theatre entrance, I dropped her off and wished her luck. When I returned a couple of hours later to pick her up, the foyer was deserted. At the box office I made enquiries about the finish time. There was still forty minutes to go. 

“My daughter is in there”, I told the box-office girl, “I’d rather catch the last forty minutes than sit waiting in the foyer”.

“I can’t sell you a half ticket”, she said strictly, “and I can’t let you in for free”. She had a well-that’s-that look on her face and was surprised when I insisted on going in.

“Then I’ll purchase a full ticket. I’m not going to sit here while she’s in there”.

She hesitated but eventually sold me the ticket. “I feel guilty selling it to you for only forty minutes”, she confessed.

I rolled my eyes (inwardly wishing she would just hurry), paid for the ticket and moved quickly past ushers and black curtains into an intimate theatre space. Momentarily in the dark I felt disorientated. Scanning the stage, I ascertained that Kat was not on it, settled back into my seat and waited. At every entry of a new performer, my heart rose in my chest. Would this be her? I’ve had this feeling before, many times. Scanning groups of school children at school pick-up time, the sight of your own child’s face is like a home coming. Intimate familiarity registers and you can see it on their face too, as your eyes meet. I was ready for the charge of instant familiarity. But I knew she wouldn’t be able to see me. She didn’t even know I was in the audience. 

A change of act, and suddenly her familiar face was before me. It was my Kat, but they had dressed her in a long auburn wig, raunchy seventies gear and platform shoes. She looked adult and stunningly beautiful. I starred in disbelief. Waiting for her to speak her lines I almost held my breath. She delivered her lines in an English accent with confidence and conviction. Her character was convincing as a gossiping trouble maker (which is funny, because Kat is not that type in real life. She is trustworthy and thoughtful). 

I fossicked in my bag and pulled out my camera. My thoughts at the time were to capture Kat in the wig to show her sisters. I locked the camera onto no-flash. Furtively I captured the following two shots:

After the show I found a seat in the foyer. From this vantage point I watched as other patrons merged and converged and actors were reunited with boyfriends, girlfriends and families. Finally Kat emerged flanked by a group of other actors. I wasn’t the only one who noticed them. A large group of kids about the same age as Kat and the others converged on them. The talk was excited. There was lots of hugging. I approached the group in time to hear Kat’s friends complimenting her on her performance, how surprisingly well she walked in high heels, and the look of her wig. Kat’s smile was enormous as she joked about stealing the wig and worrying whether she would roll her ankle in the shoes. 

She confessed to me in the car on the way home that she loved wearing the wig.

“Seriously”, she laughed, “I want that wig. It was like I was fulfilling a little-girl fantasy or something”, was the way she expressed it.

“Oh, I know why”, I said, “Its like Areal the Little Mermaid. Do you remember dressing up like her when you were four?”.

“No! But that explains it lol”. (Yes, she really did say lol. Kat and her friends actually talk chat-speak sometimes. lol).

“You really did look beautiful in it”.

“Thanks. Everyone was coming up to me back stage saying Kat, grow your hair that long, dye it that colour, you look hot! or Kat, marry me in that wig! It was cool”. 

We laughed.

She was on a high. I thought she was chatty on the way there, but it was nothing compared to her elation on the way home!


One Response to “The Debut”

  1. […] and through your eyes which begin to water as you try to stifle it. You notice that your daughter (who is an actress) has managed to maintain a beautifully straight face against the odds, and this just adds to the […]

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