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May 6, 2017 / hbrowne4

Christine by Livia Bartolome Vergel

I put some rouge on my lips looking at my reflection on the mirror. I take my time, enjoying that moment, checking that the lipstick is applied evenly. Tonight, I want to look perfect, this is my farewell gift to the place that has been my home for the last 20 years. I hear a voice at my back telling me that the show will start in 15 minutes. I look at myself at the mirror for the last time and exit my dressing room. I walk to the backstage and think about all the memories contained between these walls. I saw you for the first time in this theatre. I was just a child back then. I remember being a little bit bored by what was happening on stage until you came and faced the audience. I had never heard anything as beautiful and powerful as your voice. You captivated me, there was something in you that talked directly to me. From that day on I asked my dad to take me back to this theatre. I needed to see you, to talk to you. I wanted to be like you. You liked my energy and enthusiasm and you asked me to sing to you. I was embarrassed, I felt that I wasn’t deserving, but you were gentle and patient and saw my potential. You became my mentor and my friend, you taught me all the secrets of the trade. You supported me the day of my debut. I was so nervous that I was afraid that no sound would come from my mouth. But you told me to take a deep breath and to start my song whenever I felt ready. You made me realise how these words on a paper could come to life and turn into something meaningful.

So many characters have lived with me during these 20 years. I have transformed myself into different women. I have laughed, cried, loved, hated, lived, died. They have been my companions, different skins I wore and took off every night. I have been a young opera singer torn between two lovers. A young girl incarcerated by an evil judge whose dream is to fly away like a bird. A bride who longs to know who her father is. I have been an ambitious actress who wanted to seduce and manipulate a powerful politician. A mother who gave her life for her son. A cockney flower girl who turned into a proper English lady. A factory worker turned into a prostitute who longed for that youth love she once had. A veteran dancer who sees her dancing days coming to an end and doesn’t regret what she did for love. A young woman who is torn between her loyalty towards her family and community and the man she loves. A witch who is despised by everyone for being different. A prisoner whose dream is to become a singer. A woman whose desire is to become a mother. A teacher that travels to foreign lands with her son to teach the children of a powerful king. I have loved each of them for different reasons. They have taught me about strength, hope, love, sacrifice, honesty, mercy, forgiveness. I have seen parts of myself in them, things I loved, things I hated and had to accept. All of them had walked beside me even in my darkest times, and reminded me the reasons why I loved this life when I was about to give up. I started believing that my profession was my outlet, a beautiful fantasy that allowed me to keep going, but it was actually the place I found myself, the place where I conquered and learned to live with my fears, where I found my support and my strength. But I am afraid that these memories will disappear as soon as the theatre is demolished. And that when this place disappears so will you. I need to sit down for a moment, overwhelmed as I am by these sad memories. My partner is also pacing up and down the hall but he stops when he sees me and sit by me. He doesn’t say anything, he knows exactly what I am thinking about. He also misses you. He takes my hand and kisses me on the forehead as he whispers into my ear ‘The show must go on!’. The show always goes on, no matter how hard life beats you up, once you are on stage you must play your part and smile, smile, even if your heart is breaking, even if you feel like you are dying. I don’t know if I will be able to keep doing this. Not without you. I am not as strong and confident as you were. There are more theatres and stages, but none of them will feel like home.

5 minutes for the show to start. He wants me to audition for a new show, we can even try to move to a new place. He’s been in so many different places that he will forget this theatre easily.

The stage director looks at me. It’s time. I get up and prepare mentally to get on stage. I hear the audience cheering and when I get on stage they all fall silent. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I see your face, smiling at me and take my time before I feel ready to start to sing. I look at my audience, people from different ages who look at me expectantly. But tonight, I won’t sing for them, I will sing for you, as a farewell and as an appreciation of everything you have taught me and done for me over the years. And I hope that my voice will still resonate once these walls have turned into debris and that these people will remember about this marvellous place full of magic long after its gone. I smile as the music starts playing:

Wishing you were somehow here again

Wishing you were somehow near

Sometimes it seemed if I just dreamed

Somehow you would be here[1]

[1]Lloyd Webber, Andrew. The Phantom of the Opera. 1986. London, 2005. Print.

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