03 March 2011

Facing Fears

I love my work in the theater department at school. Painting, sewing, acting, lighting, sound-if I'm honest with myself, I really am happy with any and all of it. Complaints mainly stem from exhaustion, my own failings at time-management, and things that don't make sense to my scattered, but logical mind. For our latest show, which has run this week and closes Saturday, I am running a spotlight. This is an easy enough job, to the untrained eye, and a fairly simple job once a person knows what they're doing. I've acted as spot op for two other shows, so I'm confident of my skills. However, for this show, I had another obstacle to face.

The spotlights and, of course, their operators are located on the fourth catwalk, high above the audience. This means...ladders.

Ladders have always made me nervous, as have heights. Of course, it didn't take me long to figure out the height wasn't my big probem. It was, in fact, the ladders to the catwalk. Once I was up there, I was fine. The catwalk is solid enough and doesn't sway like crazy or anything; there are rails on either side at different heights, used as hand holds and light hang locations as need demands for each production. Logically, the catwalk is perfectly safe so long as nobody hangs off it or something equally stupid. No, my hang-up was entirely with the ladders.

I'm very cautious when it comes to ladders. I climb no higher up than absolutely necessary and always keep as many of my limbs connected to the ladder as possible. Both hands, both feet, always in contact with a rung until my feet find solid ground again. Logically, I know the fear and know exactly where it stems from. It's the spaces between the rungs that worry me. All it would take is one mis-step, after all.

Of course, the show must go on. When we were hanging lights before tech weekend, it took me twice as long to get down the ladders as it took getting up them and I took more time than anyone getting to the catwalks. During the tech runs of the show, I had a flashlight with me that I could turn on to make my way back downstairs after the show. Now, with two tech runs, a dress rehearsal, and opening night down, I'm not as nervous as I was.

Am I going to be speed walking along the catwalks any time soon? Sliding down the ladder or skipping rungs? Going down a ladder with a lighting instrument in one hand? I doubt it. Maybe that last one, if I have to. I never thought theater, something I love helping out with and being involved in, could help conquer a fear.
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