Failure is Not Fatal, So They Say

Today has been quite, quite awful.

I got up this morning very excited- at four this afternoon, I was planning to go to the first rehearsal for my play, and I could not wait. After I got ready to go to the gym, I figured I’d check my e-mail while I ate breakfast. That’s when I saw the message:

“It is with a heavy heart I must tell you that we can no longer accommodate your play in our festival. In the past two days we’ve lost 5 actors, 2 replacements, and a director. Due to scheduling conflicts, we found no way to cast your show in time with a director who could take on the piece. I’m so sorry about this.”

I was shocked and really, really upset by this e-mail. I was also embarrassed. I’d told so, so many people that I was being produced, from my parents to my professors to my college friends to my friends that are themselves very successful playwrights. They were all excited for me and a handful of them were even going to come to see the play. And now I had to un-tell them.

I think the worst part of this whole thing is that I can’t blame the theatre company. As you can see in the message above, what happened was completely out of their control. Even as I was driving to the gym to work off my frustration and desperately thinking, “But I know a ton of actors and directors. I am an actor! I can make this happen!” I realized that the writer of the e-mail was right. The festival is in ten days, and that’s not enough time to cast the right people in the roles with a director who is enthusiastic or at least appropriate for the piece. And, I decided after this realization, I would rather wait and have the piece produced with care then demand, or try myself, to have it produced so quickly. It would probably be worse for a half-baked piece to go up than to wait for the right time for this play to be done.

And it could be done. The company has asked to hold on to not only this play, but another one I sent them for the same festival. They said they really like them and “will definitely be in touch.” I’m taking this all with a grain of salt; in theatre, there are no promises. I may never hear from these people again. But I hope I do.

I sent out an e-mail to everyone (well, almost everyone) that I had invited to the festival, telling them that if they came, they would not see my piece onstage. It was really painful. But I did get an encouraging message from my playwriting mentor, who told me that these things happen (it’s happened to him four times, he wrote, and on a much bigger scale) and that it was not a small thing for my play to be considered ready to present publicly by a theatre company who knew nothing about me. This, more than anything else, made me feel a lot better.

But my day was not over yet. Oh, no. When I got home from the gym, I looked around my messy side of the room and decided to be productive and clean it. I threw all the stuff off my bed to make it and picked up my phone to see if my mom or anyone else had texted me, since I was in the middle of two conversations. What I found were two messages, from two different people, with information about my tourguide job. Oh, yes. It was 1:10 and apparently, I was supposed to be leading a tour that started at 12:45.

My mind has never been filled with more bad words, and I can’t believe they didn’t tumble out of my mouth when I called Beth and asked her what was going on and she said, “Aren’t you leading a tour right now?” I was practically convulsing on my bed as I said, “oh my God” over and over again as tears poured down my face. It only got worse when she told me that when someone misses a tour, they usually get fired. Awesome. So in addition to NOT being a produced, I was also going to have to tell people that I got fired from my job, and also deal with the monetary repercussions of losing said job. (The best part of this is, my mom texted me the other day and asked me to bring some chocolate home for her when I met up  with my family for Thanksgiving and I thought, ‘How sad that I don’t have a tour this week. That would have been so convenient.’) Beth assured me that she would talk to Jane and they would call me by tonight.

I spent a good portion of the day crying; my eyes are very, very dry right now. I was just getting over the embarrassment of suddenly not being produced and then this happened… and I couldn’t even blame it on anyone but myself and my dyscalculia. Because, just as I spent the entirety of every math class doing, I had written a number down wrong, and now I was going to be fired for it. Every time my phone made a noise, I would rush to check it. Finally, I got a message from Jane, saying that Beth had explained what had happened and everything was fine; I still had my job. THANK GOD.

However upset I was today- and still am, about the play- I constantly tried to put things into perspective. No, I wasn’t being produced. But I hadn’t lost any money on the play. It wasn’t rejected because of the quality of the writing or anything else that I did. There was no marquee that I was suddenly being taken off of. While I was in employment limbo, I told myself that I do have another job. And every time I was tempted to think or say, “THIS IS THE WORST DAY EVER,” I reminded myself that not only have I certainly had worse days, but that one of my friends lost her mother today, and that my situation could certainly not be called worse than hers; my mother was texting me encouraging words from work. And as if it was meant to be, I just happened upon the following quote, which gives me hope:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston Churchill


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