I ignored my sweaty palms and my racing heart as I quickly skimmed over my lines in the script. The annual school play was scheduled to start within half an hour and I was trying to calm my frayed nerves. Smoothing the teal gown that I wore, I practised my lines in front of the mirror. Juliet had been the most coveted role in the play and if I failed to deliver my utmost best, I would never forgive myself.
Suddenly the hubbub of noisy actors and others working backstage was pierced by a loud crashing sound. I turned around to see everyone rushing towards a wooden step ladder that had fallen. Luckily, no one had been hurt. Within minutes the ladder was carried to a distant spot backstage before our play’s director, Mrs Jamaal came stomping to find out what the din had been about.
As though on cue, Mrs Jamaal appeared a few minutes later rapidly issuing out instructions to actors about their costumes or their lines. She then went backstage to investigate why the lighting wasn’t working properly and some of us breathed a sigh of relief to have escaped her sharp eye. Meanwhile, one of the girls who was portraying Romeo’s father in the play seemed to be struggling with her beard. No matter how much she tried to adjust it, it stayed lopsided. Finally, two of the makeup artists went to her assistance and adjusted the beard to a more normal position.
One of my friends who was playing Juliet’s mother in the play was beginning to look paler by the second. She came to me and confided that she was scared of forgetting her lines. Just as I was about to reassure her, Mrs Jamaal appeared once again loudly clapping her hands to get everyone’s attention. Instead of her usual cheery disposition, her face looked flushed and almost angry. Looking around at all of us she said:
“There are just five minutes left before the play starts so I want you to listen closely. I know that nobody is perfect, but I am sure that all of you will be brilliant. Make me proud!”