Doug Wilder thinks about next steps after Taking Steps

What do you do at the end of the play?

L-R: Matthew McGee as Tristam with me as Leslie Bainbridge

It’s always so strange to be at the end of the run, having devoted so much of your time to your work.  The theater is a strange world, where you’re stuffed inside one room for an extended period of time working so feverishly, all together to create something that will (hopefully) grab the attention of people and speak to them.  Then, working through the backstage drama, the broken costumes, the shows where you’re tired or spent, the shows where the audience wants to laugh quietly, and  growing close, tight knit relationships with people that you may not see again for months or years.  A life in the theater is always full of these moments, but then in the amount of time it takes to wipe any trace of the play from the floor of the stage, everything is gone.  Where does it go?

As an actor, you aren’t necessarily rewarded by every show you do.  Sometimes, being in a play just feels like work.  But Taking Steps has been such a rewarding experience, both in the quality of the show, and in the amazing performances of my fellow actors, and in the joyous nature of the amazing Constellation Stage, that you can’t help but wonder where it will go.  My cast mates have created such interesting, fluidly brilliant characters in this play, and when Sunday night comes around, those characters will cease to exist, and the only trace they will have made on the world is in the memories of the audience members who were lucky enough to see the show.

There are 606 people who will have that opportunity this weekend, who get to watch Matthew McGee stutter around as the awkward Tristram Watson, who get to see Tia Shearer both prance around and go into vicious attack mode at a house intruder, who will watch Matt Wilson’s controlling, hilarious Roland, Megan Graves’ terrified Kitty, and Dylan Myers’ befuddled Mark.  Only 606 people will share this magnificent experience with us, and then on Sunday, we’ll leave it all behind; all the laughter, all the fun, an amazing fight scene, a hilarious romp through an English country house with a super interesting design.

On Stage we are Kitty, Tristam, Mark, Elizabeth, Leslie and Roland

Then, we’ll all take that memory with us, and nothing else.  All that will remain of the play, of the lives it affirmed, the laughs it created, the joy it brought to thousands of people in Washington, DC, is the collective experience and the shared memories it will have created.  We, as artists, will then go out in search for the next show, the next chance we have to make an impact on people’s lives.  But we carry this experience with us, just as our audience does.

What do you do at the end of the play?  Remember it.  And then go experience another.

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