I remember standing in a park in Newport Beach California almost ten years ago to the day. I was staring at my mother and wife, who were sitting under a tree with about 1,200 other people, all of which were looking at me alone on a grassy plane. I was performing the role of Benedict in William Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. If you are familiar with the play, I was about to begin the monologue in the garden where the character mocks the silliness of those poor souls who fall in love. I had never felt fear like that before.
I stepped off the precipice and embraced the fear.
I had performed in front of large crowds, had been performing that particular monologue for more than 10 years, having learned it under the tutelage of Delaine Gates in drama classes at the El Dorado High School. This was, however, my first time to ever perform the role in it’s entirety, and I had only been allowed a single day of rehearsal with the cast. One week earlier, the director of the play asked if I could fill in for the actor cast in the role due to a scheduling conflict. Now, I found myself with more than two thousand eyes staring at me in complete silence.
They say that you can condition yourself to dealing with all kinds of uncomfortable and difficult situations, pains and ailments. You see athletes that can stretch their bodies beyond what seem to be normal physical limitations or endurance athletes that bike and run for extreme lengths. I once saw a street performer that could burn just about any part of his body and leave no visible mark. Regular conditioning allows us to move beyond our assumed limitations of self, and I was standing on the precipice of my fear at that very moment.
Every time I have to speak to a group, small or large I think back on that cool summer night in a park in southern California. What’s the worst that could have happened? I could have fainted, run off the stage in hysterics or started speaking incoherent mumblings as I slowly backed away from the masses. Luckily, none of those things came to pass.
I stepped off the precipice and embraced the fear. I locked eyes with my wife and love of my life and got back to work. Amazingly, it was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had in a performance. There is really nothing like having a crowd hang on your every word, waiting for you to tell them a story. They giggled and they laughed and most importantly they listened.
On Wednesday I had the pleasure to present the future of the El Dorado Arts & Entertainment District to the commission responsible for the El Dorado Works Tax funds. I looked around at those there in support and those of whom I was requesting support. The excitement and anticipation of what we are building could be seen in their faces, and I am happy to say they also listened and the message was heard loud and clear. The City of El Dorado is undergoing a large cultural change and I look forward to standing on this new stage and sharing the message of what is coming.