Be the Star That You Are

Be the Star That You Are
by Wambui Bahati

When I was a child, I developed a great love and respect for the theater. From my early adult years through the present, I have had the good fortune of performing in some extraordinarily wonderful productions all over the country. It wasn’t all a piece of cake though, as the saying goes. Life and work with the theater can be brutal on the psyche. When I used to audition regularly for shows in New York City, I found it was possible for me to be too tall, too short, too light, too dark, too skinny, too heavy, too young, too old, too pretty, and not pretty enough -- all in one morning.

Auditioning is about waiting or hoping to be chosen. I would enter a room and hope that I was what they were looking for. A role does not necessarily go to the most talented person (talent is after all, relative and depends heavily on personal opinion). It is much more than that though, casting a show is not just about finding the most brilliant performer. It involves finding a person who also fits the physical and vocal characteristics of the character, the right looks and the right voice. And besides that, there are not that many parts to go around. Therefore, no matter how many talented, gifted, awesome, or right-for-the-part people there may be, everyone is not going to get a part.

Even after we're cast and still pretty close to elated about working in a new show, we find that we are very dependent on the decisions of others. There are producers, writers, and designers – a whole creative team is involved in a show. We can be creative within the boundaries that they set. They determine the lines we say, the songs we sing, who the other cast members are and whether or not we will be fired. On top of that, sometimes even the critics end up defining our roles in a given show.

Live theatre is wonderful! Fine actors and an excellent creative team can produce magic. They take someone's story – mere words on paper and give it life, emotion, motion and excitement (hopefully). That's Theater.

Sadly, many of us live our personal lives as if they were someone else's theater production. We live our lives and limit our creativity to the boundaries set by others. Today I encourage you to be your own producer and creative team for your own personal life. We have the ability to produce and star in a magnificent, long-running, spectacular hit. That hit is our life.

Isn't it exciting? We don't have to wait to be chosen. We can cast ourselves in any role we want to play. The key is in deciding what that role might be. And it gets even better. In life, if we decide we don't like our part, we have the power to rewrite it. This is the Joy of (so-called) real-life. Yet, so many of us wait for others to dictate the role we will play. And worse yet, we feel powerless to do anything about it. We react instead of act. We must not allow any outside person or group of people to decide what part we are going to play in our own lives.

In commercial theater, there are no unimportant roles. If the role were not necessary, it would not have been written. Believe me when I say producers are not interested in paying an actor who is not a necessary part of the show. Likewise, the Universe did not create anyone or anything that is not necessary. You are necessary and every part you play is important.

In commercial theater, on nights when there is no show, the theater is referred to as being "dark." If being the star of our own show (remember, in real life every role is a starring role) gets to be too exhausting, we can exit the world stage without exiting life. It's called meditation or contemplation, and some call it prayer.

Closing our eyes and going "dark" is essential for our well-being in the real world too. Use this time to remember your objectives and to thank the Universe that you are in a hit show. Ask the Universe for guidance if there is a particular scene you are having trouble with. Sometimes it might be necessary to write yourself a role where it appears that you are a background player for a while. Just for a little while.

Listen for the cue that you need to hear, see, or feel. If you should happen to miss a cue, wait for the next one. Don’t beat yourself up over a missed cue or a late entrance. It's your show. The life critics have no power over you. They cannot shut down your show unless you give them that power. Just like in commercial theater – they are only giving their opinion. That’s what they do and it has nothing to do with you. They created that role for themselves.

Stop replaying what you believe to be the missed cues and sour notes of your life. Maybe the drama you are featuring yourself in is physically and mentally draining you. Perhaps you find that the comedy you’re playing in now is a little too frivolous for you. If this is the case, then it's time to write yourself some new songs, or at least write some new lyrics to the old melodies. Decide to learn some new tunes and perhaps even a new dance step. What kind of lighting will be appropriate?

Also, consider the script. What are you saying and doing? Are these your words? Are you thinking and feeling for yourself? Write your own script. Make an outline. Have a plan. Are your feelings and thoughts sincere? Are you considerate of others and the parts and shows that they have written for themselves? Do you respect their right to do a show that you may not agree with? If we are really excited about creating, starring, and having fun in our own show, we have no time to be concerned or to criticize someone else's show.

Surrounding yourself with the right cast members is important too. Sometimes it is hard to give your best performance if you are among cast members who are not giving 100 per cent. If you continue to play opposite players who are not playing full out, you will eventually lower your own expectations, believing this is the norm. Don’t let any player steal your thunder. Do not give less than you have in order not to make the others look bad. Fire those around you who drain your energy and are unnecessary burdens. Recast those parts with others who understand your "big picture" and have similar goals, those that you trust, and most of all those who you can laugh with.

Your show will be a hit as long as you remember that you hold and have access to all of your show's creative power. Ask yourself from time to time, is this a show that I'm proud of? If the answer is ever no, then rewrite, recast, or exit into the wings and decide what your next cue is. Remember, if you don't cast yourself in your own show, you will, by default, play a role in someone else's show. Why not be a shining star in the greatest show in the Universe - your own show- your life?

More Articles by Wambui Bahati

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