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Performance Time

by Prakash Jayanthi, Class of 2014

Silence reigned, broken only by the occasional shuffle or a stray cough. As the audience stared at the stage, eyes aglow in the reflected light, I stood by the side of the stage, coming to the realization that there was nothing more I could do. As the first softly strummed notes floated out into the room, I took my first real breath of the evening, and slowly exhaled.

The past week had been extremely hectic for me. It was that time of the semester where the SGA was going to put on a talent show, and, as SGA EVP, it fell on my shoulders to do so. The phrase “Death, where is thy sting?” sums up that experience fairly well. Getting people to volunteer to perform is, surprisingly, not that hard at this school. We have a lot of talented people who would like to put those talents on display. (Note: this is not a euphemism).

There were other problems that came up, most noticeably with the sound guys. The people setting up the sound system got there late, left, came back later about an hour before the performance, and assured me it would take only 20 minutes to set up. It took 90 minutes to set up, and only the Bradykinin Bunch (a band helmed by Dr. Leuck) got to do a sound check. We got lucky, inasmuch as one of the guests of honour took a little while to get there, so I had about 15 minutes of breathing room. Also, the first group to go on was late, as they decided to put on their costumes 5 minutes before the start of the performance. As you can imagine, my blood pressure was skyrocketing at this point as I ran back and forth, trying to figure out where people were or preparing to rearrange the order of performances (despite having printed out 200 programs and placed them on the seats). A heart attack at this point would have been welcomed with all the warmth and friendship that an old friend would command.

Finally, at the silent yet deafeningly insistent demand of the crowd, we started the performance. That’s when I realized it was out of my hands, and finally managed to relax – I never before realized how relaxing it could be to not have any control over a situation. And gradually, as the evening unfolded, I found to my delight that it was turning out to be a decent show. I started participating enthusiastically from the sidelines, clapping and cheering, along with everyone else. Of course, I also got to perform – once as a duo, and then ending the show with the Bradykinin Bunch (with whom, by the way, I also had been rehearsing that past week – contributing to this hectic and heart-attack causing schedule). It was incredibly exhilarating to get up on stage, knowing that, as the last performance, it was our opportunity to end the evening on a high note; and that, as the last performance, there was nothing more to worry about as all the others had gone over well, and, more importantly, were over. We cruised happily through four songs, enjoying every second of it, and as the final crashing of the cymbals indicated that the evening was finally coming to a close, any and all anxiety poured out of me like sweat (as did sweat, because it was hot under those lights).

The lesson I learnt at that moment was that no matter the situation, if you stick with it long enough, then usually everything will work out in the end. Maybe it was that the ability of our school’s students to come together in a moment of crisis and deliver is something that is both heart-warming and awe-inspiring. Maybe it’s just that I should have eaten dinner beforehand. Yeah, it was probably the last one.