The Production

We are all so consumed with authenticity. Constantly questioning who’s being real and who isn’t.

We judge each other by our Facebook profiles and talk incessantly through various avenues about how “Your happy shiny pictures don’t fool me.” We want everyone to be “real,” and I wholeheartedly agree. But somehow it seems that people have maybe lost sight of what “being real” really looks like.

For the sake of metaphors, when is the last time you went to a performance or production of some kind?

My two most recent things (as in the last 6 months) were a Garth Brooks concert (amaze-balls) and a traveling Broadway show of Dirty Dancing (my all time favorite so, also amaze-balls).

Whether you have been a performer of any kind in your lifetime or not, and even whether or not you have ever stepped foot behind a stage, you likely are smart enough to know that the performance is not all there is to the show. Whether you physically witnessed the hours upon hours of blood, sweat and tears the performers put into perfecting their art before performing it for you, you likely know those hours existed. You likely also know that after that performance you enjoyed, there will be more hours of blood, sweat and tears as they prepare for the next one.

Whether you have ever been in the production side of things, you likely know and appreciate the people who work backstage. The light crew. The stage crew. The orchestra playing below. The wardrobe assistants. The make-up artists. The clean-up crew.

Whether you’ve ever been a parent of a performer yourself or not, you likely have some idea of all that goes into having a little performer. The practices before and after school. The driving. The encouragement. The failures. The misses. The injuries. The heartbreak. The missed fun. The lost sleep.

But when we buy our tickets to a performance, anxiously and excitedly anticipating the day we get to go and listen to our favorite musician or watch our favorite dancer or see our favorite play, what we are excited for is the performance. We want to be entertained. We want to be inspired. We want to see what we came to see. We want the on-stage performance; not the behind the scenes production.

And that’s ok. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

The performers know you’re there to see a show, and they are there to give you one. But does the fact that they didn’t show you all the nitty gritty details of how they got there mean that they arent giving a genuine performance?

Does the fact that they didn’t peel the curtain down and show you what’s happening backstage during the performance somehow take anything away from the beauty of the moment you came to see?

In fact, would you not demand to get your money back if they did it that way?

It would detract your attention from what you came for if they also showed you that during that performance, one of the dancers broke her toe. You would feel cheated if in the middle of a song, a musician started telling you all about how hard their day was before the performance started, or all the things they’re stressed about that will happen after.

You don’t stay after the performance is over to watch the clean-up crew get the stage ready for the next round. You don’t want to see the dress rehearsal beforehand. And while you may have some appreciation for it, you don’t really want to know what all it took throughout their lives for the performers to get to this point. You just want to watch them perform.

What I wonder is why we accept these truths in the performing arts world, among others, yet we are so quick to say that someone who posts happy moments on Facebook isn’t being real. When someone uses Facebook as a place to share the good things of life, blog posts are written about how dis-genuine they are. People chime in and love to hate on things not being “real.”

As if someone who posts all their drama on Facebook is someone people speak well of either?

The Facebook friends who air their dirty laundry and tell the “real” things happening in their behind the scenes make people cringe, roll their eyes and consider the unfriend button.

So what’s the solution? How do we please the crowd?

Too much happy and you’re fake. Too much real and you’re a drama-queen, attention-seeking mess.

The truth is that all of our lives are one big production. We all have performance worthy moments and we all have backstage moments. We all have failures, wins, falls, and successes. We are all, at one time or another, every single member of the production team. We’ve been the clean up crew, the wardrobe assistant, the dancer with the broken toe, the light crew, the curtain, the beams holding it all up, and the performer.

The performance is no less real just because you didn’t watch the practices and rehearsals before.

The happy couple on Facebook is no less real just because they didn’t also take a video of the fight they had last week.

The proud mama with her child on graduation day is no less real just because she didn’t also rant about all her sleepless nights worrying about that baby of hers for the last 18 years.

The picture perfect family moment is no less real than the messy struggles they all endure in the midst of it.

The smiley picture with our kiddos and the sweet little caption of how much we love motherhood is no less real than the fit we threw earlier about cleaning up the same mess for the 15th time or breaking up the same fight for the 27th.

I personally tend to show you all stages of the production of my life. I view myself as a pretty real person, both in and out of social media. But even I don’t show you everything, and that doesn’t make what I do show you any less real or authentic.

The thing is we all know what life looks like. We all know not every moment is Facebook perfect. We all struggle. We all get exhausted. We all get in bad moods. We all have a backstage. But just because behind the scenes exists doesn’t mean the highlight reel isn’t worth sharing and celebrating together. The truth that backstage production occurs does not make the on stage performance any less real.

So can we just all celebrate all the versions of each other’s production we get to see on any given day, and appreciate the fact that we are all just doing the best we can with what we’ve got, celebrating when we can in between all the stuff that strings those moments together behind the scenes?

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