I’ve really been thinking lately about all of the supporting roles that there are in this world, and how incredible it is that human beings are able to mesh together and make a working society. Okay, I will admit that sometimes things get a little jammed, or they don’t work out. But still, our overall ability to function as a group is pretty remarkable if you think about it. And granted, some jobs are really more important than others, but they are all needed. It’s like they tell you in acting: “There are no small parts, only small actors.” I’m starting to realize that that’s how society works, too, except it’s more like “There are no small roles, only small amounts of glory.”
It really is a lot like acting. I am a theater major because I love acting. I am crazy about it. I love slipping into another world, another character. I love getting to wear costumes, and props are really cool and — well, you get the idea.
Unfortunately, one of the problems with acting is that parts are limited. So, when I didn’t get into “Of Mice and Men,” I decided to work on the crew, thinking it would give me more time off, that it would be a nice way to be involved, but not quite as involved. Well, I was wrong. Seriously, moving things around, getting costumes ready, building, taking notes, paying attention to detail, relaying messages, making sure that cues for lighting and sound and crew are on time — there are lots of things to be done in theater that don’t involve acting, and they are every bit as important, and every bit as much work.
I remember when I was a freshman in high school and we had to do this activity where we got a list of jobs, things like: astronaut, professional football player, doctor, teacher, actress and lawyer. As a class, we had to take one of the jobs and create a line in order from most important job to least important job. Sounds fairly simple, right? You put the doctor first, then the teacher—no, wait, the teachers have to teach the doctors, so maybe they should go first. OK, you put the doctor, then the teacher, then the astronaut. Or is it the lawyer? You can see how this would be difficult, right? I was all for banishing the football player to the bottom of the chain, while others felt that a great touchdown was more impressive than space exploration. Needless to say, the 27 or so of us couldn’t come to a conclusion. And that was the point.
After the activity, the class sat down and talked about it, and we concluded as we were supposed to that it’s really impossible to name the most important job, because there really isn’t one. Yes, some jobs may be less important than others, but there is no leading role of the universe. I think this is worth reiterating, even if we hear it often. My little theater reality check reminded me of how amazing it is to be part of something that works, even if one doesn’t get the curtain call — I am really enjoying being an assistant stage manager.
So, as we move into the Thanksgiving season, I would like you to participate by extending your warm, fuzzy acknowledgements to those who you may not have noticed before. Thank your waitress. Thank Public Safety, because even though an officer may have given you a parking ticket, we also have a campus where the biggest worry we have is having an iPod stolen. I think that’s a pretty fair exchange. Thank your RA for sitting and listening to you complain about your roommate. Thank your dorm’s building and grounds guy. Thank whoever you notice, however small their job may be. As for me, I’m going to thank the guys who pick up dead deer at the side of the road. Seriously, kudos to those guys.