Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem-double thinking December 2, 2016

Filed under: Poetry — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:15 am
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Image (c) Evan Buhler used with permission. “Feed the Birds”. Mary Poppins Shuswap Theatre 2016.

In the wings,

tickling throat,

I’ve been coughing all day.


This is going to be awful.

What if I crack on the high notes?

What if I can’t find my first note?

Oh, no.  None of that.

It’s going to be great.  You can do it!

Enter to the cue.

Gaze around the stage at imaginary birds.

Take the mark, spotlight on.

First note.  Yay! Perfect.  

Look at the audience.  Let’s make them feel the pathos.


This is going surprisingly well.

Uh oh.

That means I’m bound to screw up something soon.

First section over.

Other actors dialogue.

I am miming in my space.

Next section is the high section.  

I’m doomed.  My sore throat will catch.

You’re going to find that tricky start note.

You can do it.

Other actor finishes beautifully.

As usual.

She passes the song back to me.

Will I get it?

Oh, yay! That was it!


The wide interval, the interval, the interval.

I hate this interval. I always flatten it.

No! You’re going to hit it tonight.

Oh! That was fantastic!

That was the best I’ve ever done it with an audience.

I’m going to screw up the end now.

Stop that! It’s going to be fine.

You’ve done it a thousand times!

Other actor sings her part.


You got through the hard part.

Just the high note for the ending to find.

Whew. That’s the note.  Send this note to the back row.

Up. Up. Up.

Oh, crap. Here comes the harmony section.  How does it go again?


Relax! You know this.  


Hear the chord? Lovely.

Timing on the ending. Arg. This is always a crap shoot.

You can do it.  Listen for the beat.

There. Nailed it.  There. Nailed it. There. Ha. 

Soar up to ending.

Hold. Hold.  Hold.  Hold.  Hold.

Gaze out to the audience.  

Deep breath.

That was amazing.

Don’t rush off.  Listen.  Take the applause.  Embrace this moment of success.

Off the stage.

Fast costume change.

Shed one persona, don another.

Inside grinning, grinning, grinning.

I was GREAT tonight!  

That was the best rendition I’ve done for an audience.  





In the midst of my performance last night, I noticed the commentary happening in my head.  It was as if there were two of me or maybe three in there commenting on the action!  I thought it’d make an interesting poem.  I’m not sure I’ve managed what I was aiming for, but that’s the general idea, anyway.



do it! November 2, 2011

Today one of my students was singing show tunes to himself as he packed up at the end of class.  As I placed the musical, and we got talking, I told him this story.  It occurred to me that I haven’t shared this one with you all.

When I was about 8, my parents took me to the Banff School of Fine Art’s production of Fiddler on the Roof.  I remember the excitement of driving from Calgary to Banff, I remember falling asleep in the car on the drive home, and I remember loving the music.  We bought the album, and I sang those tunes constantly.  I particularly loved “Far From the Home I Love” which is sung by daughter Hodel as she goes to Siberia to join Perchik.

When I was in grade seven, our school mounted a production of Fiddler on the Roof.  Auditions were announced.  I wanted to be Hodel.  I went down to the drama room, heart pounding, and discovered that grade 9, Richie Eichler was going to play Tevye.  My heart stopped.

My little trio of friends called him the Maharaja, because he was always surrounded by a harem of girls.  He was funny, kind of goofy looking, and we couldn’t quite figure out what the attraction was, but we were in awe of it, nonetheless.  At least, I was.  I was petrified of auditioning in front of Richie Eichler.  He didn’t know me at all, of course.  There was absolutely no reason for my panic, but I was paralyzed.  I couldn’t do the audition.

A few months later, I sat in the audience and watched the girl playing Hodel butcher my song.  She couldn’t sing at all, and so she recited it like a poem.  It was a knife turning in my gut.  I could sing.  I could have brought the audience to tears with that song.  I sing it with tears pouring down my face even today.    It’s the kind of song that the audience is crushed by.  I felt guilty.  I was angry with myself for not having the courage to go through the audition, because I would have gotten the part, and I would have been good.  It was a painful lesson.  I decided the next opportunity, to act in Fiddler on the Roof, I would audition for Hodel.

You may be able to guess what happened.  I never found another production of it.  Now I could perhaps play Golde, but I will never be able to play young Hodel.  I had one chance, and I lost it.


I have won many other auditions over the years, and had the opportunity to sing other roles, but the role that sparked my star-struck dreams was never to be mine.

Damn Richie Eichler!   Damn my pointless fears!

Never let your imagined worries stop you from taking hold of your dreams.  You may not get a second chance.



PS. As a matter of trivia for Grace Awakening fans- The real Lloyd played trumpet in the orchestra for this production.  I remembered him quite distinctly playing in the band for Fiddler, when we met officially for the first time a couple years later as teen volunteers at Kelowna General Hospital.


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