A View from the Dressing Room

This month I’ve been participating in a major musical production performing in six different locations. It’s been a wonderful learning experience–especially in the dressing room that is shared by several dozen women and teen girls.

Being in six different locations means we are always learning a new layout of the land. One location might have a huge changing area while another has extremely limited space. For example, at a high school location, the women were relegated to share the band room as a changing area. We hung our costumes on music stands and waited our turns to use the full-length mirrors in the very small restroom located several hallways away.

At one theater, we were led to the basement and told to look for the room with our names on a list posted on the door. As I walked through the hall, I glanced into one room where around ten women sat comfortably putting on their stage makeup in front of lighted mirrors. Perfect, I thought to myself. We’ll finally have a decent-sized space with some elbow room.

The door holding my name opened into a large space with some tables and chairs–sans mirrors. Around thirty women and teens carrying suitcases and garment bags jostled their way through the crowded room to find a semi-private space or a corner where they could change and put on make-up. It was chaotic, to say the least, but everyone tried to be as considerate as possible.

Suddenly the door jerked open and a woman, sporting a massive chip on her shoulder, barged in dragging her wheeled suitcase behind her. She took one look at the crowded room and loudly declared, “Where in the world am I supposed to change? This is ridiculous. I’m outta here.” She did an about-face and exited the room, pulling her suitcase (and shoulder chip) clumsily out the door. (In a moment of show biz enthusiasm, I wanted to call out, “Break a leg!” but I resisted the temptation.)

Later during the performance I watched as she stood on the theater stage and sang angelically before a cheering crowd. Her platform appearance certainly didn’t match her dressing room performance. She may have put on a good act for the audience, but credibility with the fellow-actors who saw her in the dressing room was lost.

The word hypocrite comes from the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor or pretender.”  If we’re not mindful of what we do in private, what we do in public will soon be discovered as mere acting. And, it will end up costing us our integrity. I think that’s too high a price to pay just to get our own way.

You know what they say: “The show must go on!” But remember–the real show begins in the dressing room, not on the stage.