Closure? Really? Is that always a requirement for grief recovery?
I love live theater, on both sides of the stage. If you’ve ever worked backstage, you know that, once the curtain opens for a live performance, the stage manager runs the show. And if you’ve ever been a stage manager, you know that every performance is different – both on stage and behind the scenes.
One of my fondest memories is stage managing a sweet play in a beautiful, historic structure that was being rescued and renovated to serve our local community. So the season opener was not just for the play – it would be the inaugural night for the theater itself. Work and rehearsals merged for weeks.
Finally the building was ready, the set was ready, we were ready and it was opening night. The lights came up as the curtains dramatically opened.
When the first act ended, it was time for those beautiful, luxurious, custom-made, brand new velvety curtains with the heavy cords to be closed for intermission. That would signal one ending to our audience and also allow set changes to be made behind the privacy of the drapes. Except those curtains wouldn’t budge.
Now the concept of the stage manager being in charge is accurate but don’t think that you won’t be bombarded with advice and opinions at every turn. This curtain crisis was no exception. The stagehands were trying to get the set changes complete and still figure out how to close those dang curtains. After some effort, one of the guys came to me, insisting he could manually force those curtains to close and he could do it RIGHT NOW.
That seemed logical at first, but I hesitated, then shook my head no. Let’s just leave those curtains alone. I can run the rest of our show all night long with them open. But if they get closed and we can’t REOPEN them - it’s over.
We did finish the show with the curtains wide. Our cast delivered stellar performances and I honestly don’t think the audience knew the difference. I did, but in a good way, because I could readily see that our initial thinking that we HAD to get those curtains closed was not only faulty, it might have been
In the nine years since Charles’s death, I can’t really lay claim to closure, even though it’s a popular term and I initially assumed it was a requirement for recovery and for peace, which I do claim. That worried me at first. But then somewhere along the way, I remembered those curtains and the reminder that
you can keep things open if you need to and still run a good show. Sometimes it’s even the smarter thing to do.