My mom was at the show on Thursday night. Eric Steele’s parents were there, with family friends. And Chris LaBove’s. My daughter, Barrett, and her squeeze, Clay Wheeler, were there, too. In fact, if it hadn’t been for family and friends, I think we would have had an audience of three.
I’m not complaining. These people all listened with such love and attention. Parents doing what parents do. Showing up, especially when the rest of the world is otherwise engaged.
As a parent, you know your children will sometimes get an attention they deserve and sometimes not — and that the world will move around them in ways that mostly have little to do with them. This can be one of the hardest and greatest lessons of working in the theater. Sometimes the work is seen and sometimes not so much. Faced with this, those that stay in do so because there is simply a deeper, unexplainable calling at work that nurtures of itself — something that perseveres even when attention is in exile.
For a parent, showing up is a sacred and precious responsibility — and I am not overstating this. As a parent you show up because you want your children to know that, whether anyone else notices or not, the ways that they pour their love into their lives matters. It sheds light, even if they cannot always know where or how that light will fall.
And when your children have the courage to cast their light into a sea of strange faces — or a near-empty room — you are there to be the face they can count on to receive that light and reflect it back to them as joy. You are there to be the face that gives courage for the next time and the next time and for all the times that will stretch into their future beyond you.
I want my children to forever be able to close their eyes and conjure my face in the crowd — watching with the love and intensity and the pride of the parents we had on Thursday night.
When I know they can do that, I’ll know that they know the truth and depth of my love for them.
And I’ll know that all will be well with them, whether there are five people in the house or five hundred.