Where have all the Little People gone?

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Once there was this line in a film, something about being the heroine of your own life. Which, I believe, in this godforsaken world of mass-production, is vitally important. The problem is, every heroine, or hero for that matter, requires a rather massive supporting cast.

And this is perhaps truer in the theatre community than in a lot of other places. The audience walks in on one hopefully glamorous night to watch the culmination of months of effort and gumption. They watch and are enthralled by the excellence with which the human spirit is portrayed through the experimentation and emotional pathos of the stage. They watch the actors, they find them beautiful and talented and remarkably gifted in the craft. They do not see, but might on occasion make note of the Director, who drove to the limits of insanity and came back to deliver a vision. They do not see the playwright who came up with the vision in the first place. They do not see the magicians behind the lights or the crooners and players of the music and sound. They do not see the backstage crew, the ones who placed the props and prompted the cues. Or the chaiwalas who drove off hunger pangs during rehearsal. Frankly, the audience, they don’t see much at all.

So in the story of theatre, who is the heroine?

It’s easy to say it’s one of the actors. They get almost all the credit after the show and all tolerance during rehearsal. And that is probably what takes the dignity away from the little labours that need to be accomplished in the process of theatre. No one wants to simply do the running around, the slag-work, the donkey-day-dreaming that makes up the bulk of theatre whichever way you spin the wheel. Marketing, managing, finding sponsors – coming up with ideas that will make the production saleable are very real things.  And because it’s automatically assumed that the people who do this are never in the spotlight – literally and figuratively – people don’t do these things any more.

But if anyone out there is listening, know this – it’s not little people who can do little things.  Because they are the people who make the rest of it possible.

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