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they are wrong. Life is a dress rehearsal.

October 17, 2014

You are probably sick of them filling up your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Images of someone who has apparently just conquered some huge obstacle overlaid with the words “Life is not a dress rehearsal!”

They are wrong. Whoever created them clearly has no understanding of the rehearsal process. Or of life.

If we were to take them at their word it would require us to (literally) conceive of great dancers emerging into this world to be presented with their touring schedule across North America and Europe. Great guitarists picking up a ukulele and delivering virtuoso performances to their preschool class (introduced of course by the child born to be a local government representative and watched over by tiny toddler teachers and police officers keeping a watchful eye so that the one kid born a fully competent petty criminal doesn’t nick off with the milk and cookies).

A 'real' dress rehearsal

A ‘real’ dress rehearsal

The rehearsal process is an environment full of mistakes. I think of rehearsals as the process of finding all the ways not to say a line, all the ways that do not work, in the expectation that you will find some that do. And in all the best productions I have been in that process never ends. Dress rehearsal is the time for giving it your all under the additional pressure of knowing that tomorrow the audience for your what you have to offer will grow significantly larger.

Isn’t that what we hope for every day? That tomorrow we will have a slightly larger opportunity to make a difference in the world?

Dress rehearsal is a time when you become acutely aware that while it might you be out there under the lights you are completely dependent on the technician in the lighting box to bring them up and the stage crew to  ensure that everything else you need is there at the time you need it. Isn’t that the same as our ‘real’ lives. We can achieve very little without the support of others.

In dress rehearsals there are mistakes. There are always mistakes. And that is good because mistakes create a new space for improving our performance.

Forgotten lines and missed cues open the door to new ways of responding the provokes something altogether delightful that has never happened before.

I think you will find that even those who are at the peak of their performance, regardless of their field of endeavour, treat each performance as an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to improve.

So tell me again that life is not a dress rehearsal?

Every day we do the best we can in our given circumstances to ensure we have prepared as best we can – and yet we know that we could be better. We know that we will be nervous and that there is a chance that something will go wrong.

When our day is over we accept whatever feedback the audience has to offer, we take off our costume and we retreat back into our ‘other’ life knowing that tomorrow we will wake up and do it all again.

Each performance that you give is really just a dress rehearsal for the performance that will follow

So don’t believe what they tell you on Facebook/Twitter/Tumblr/Instagram/Pinterest….

Life is a dress rehearsal. Or at least it should be if you want to get the best out of the performance that is your life.


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One Comment leave one →
  1. Randal Fletcher permalink
    October 21, 2014 10:30 pm

    I like this, Every moment is a dress rehersal for the next (and a live perrfromance at the same time), and they all matter. How cool to live in a perpetual state of immediacey and expectation at the same time, all the time. Like a dress rehersal… I have seen you act Paul, and IRL (in real life), your commitment and excellence in one, bleeds all over your commitment and excellence in the other. Really good stuff…

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