Lessons from ‘Showville’
By John Peters
Over the years, as job demands and family commitments have allowed, I’ve been involved in a number of community theater productions. I enjoy acting, and being in and around the theater, and the process of learning and working together with a cast and crew.
And there’s a certain rush of adrenaline and nervousness that comes the first couple of nights of a show. The community theater where I gained most of my experience generally ran anywhere from seven to a dozen performances of each show, so eventually every production reached a point where it become a little stale, but there is no replacing the feeling of excitement that comes with those first couple of performances.
At different points in my life I’ve had two recurring nightmares. The first, just because I know you’ll wonder, was earlier in my career and involved a tornado. No, the tornado was not the reason the recurring dream was a nightmare. The nightmare part of the experience was that I could never get my camera to work — in some dreams, I had no batteries, in others, no film (yes, this was a long time ago), and in others the shutter would stick and not allow me to shoot.
The second recurring nightmare involved being on stage and my mind going blank. Not only would I forget the specific words from the script, I couldn’t even remember the general direction of the scene so improvising wasn’t a viable strategy. I have awakened from this dream several times in a blind panic.
Let’s face it, when you walk on stage you’re vulnerable, exposed, in front of an audience and there’s no way to gracefully get out of the situation if things go bad.
That’s why I was so impressed with the folks who gave it their all, auditioning for “Showville” when it came to town earlier this year, and was even more impressed by the finalists who were featured in Thursday night’s airing of the show.
These people put themselves out there, not just for the local audience, but for a national audience that easily numbered in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. I understand it’s television, which means ample opportunities for do-overs and re-shooting scenes, but that doesn’t allay the fact that these performers are being judged by people all across the nation.
If you really listen to the performers as they told a little about their backgrounds and their reasons for wanting to be in the “Showville” contest, this was much more than a simple talent competition.
To me, Dru Billings represents someone pursuing a dream. A young man who seems to be well-liked by those who know him, a hard worker going about his life, dealing with the same daily details we all have to attend to, while never losing sight of that dream. Too often people let the troubles and setbacks of life derail those dreams, but Dru has remained focused on his goal.
Betty Tilley seems a pleasant lady, and one who has a deep and passionate commitment to her religious beliefs. She’s devoting much of her life to those convictions and using her talent as a way to share her beliefs, as a means to bring comfort and edification to others.
Angela and Randy Shur are two local business owners who have worked hard for many years, and that effort has borne fruit for them in a tangible, financial way. They are using their ability, their position in the community, to help those in need and had planned to use any winnings they might have received from the show, to help others.
Charice Bender, to me, is someone who has a passion in life in the form of dancing, and teaching others that discipline. And, she’s a person who saw something she wanted to do and she put everything she had into it. No holding back, no half-way pursuit, just all-out effort. Then she took those winnings and will be using them in her dance studio, to continue helping others learn and pursue a love of that art form.
I think we can all learn something from these five individuals that goes beyond the on-stage acts, and personally I’m proud to say I’m the editor of the hometown paper where those people reside. I think they gave a strong accounting of themselves and the community, and I hope the rest of the nation saw a little beyond the stage as they watched the program, and saw people who had something to teach us that went beyond their show talent.
Reach at or 336-719-1931.
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