It’s not the applause that lures us,
the backstage banter, the lights,
the excitement, not even
the greatest speech, perfectly timed,
holding in perfection but a little moment.*
What endures, what transcends
any minor error, misstep or lost line
is that little perfect moment
in the green room* every night.
“One minute!” The voice fades
and silence falls. The light
is about to rise; the first words
will soon be spoken.
In that moment, we understand
creation. The writer waits
for words to leap to life.
The artist holds a laden brush
over a blank canvas.
The actor inhales like a newborn
about to announce its own birth.
The world waits.
In that hush, we are present
in the silence before the Big Bang.
In that pause, we witness matter
transmuted into stars. The light rises.
We exhale. A voice is heard.
This poem is based on my recent experience as an actor with Lancaster Players (set in photo) and many years as a stage mom.
*The first reference to a “green room” may have been in Thomas Shadwell’s 1678 play A True Widow. According to various sources, it is “an agreeing room;” “a place where it is safe to talk;” “Green is for youth; the young understudies would wait there for a chance to appear onstage,” and “Green walls hide the stage blood.” (source: London Symphony Orchestra blog)