As she directs her first local musical, Maria Rushe talks about the importance of mums staying true to themselves.
Where do you find the time?”
“How can you be bothered?”
“It can’t be worth that much work?”
I’ve been on stage my whole life, first as an Irish Dancer and for the past 15 years, as a member of Letterkenny Musical Society.
This year, we’re doing Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice’s masterpiece, EVITA.
Every September, we meet to begin our winter of rehearsals and of fun. It begins as once a week, and by February each year, it’s 2 to 3 nights a week and Sundays. At the minute, I’m eating, sleeping and breathing Evita. I feel like Eva Peron has become my best friend…
I’m having ideas at 3am that are sending our Producer into tailspins. I’m dreaming that Elvis sings Magaldi’s songs and that the Wicked Witch arrives in the funeral scene. Last night, there was a Bull in the wings as the curtain was going up… and it wasn’t me.
My kids are singing the songs; they know every single word, some of which terrifies me as there are a few choice words in some of the songs. They have sat behind me during rehearsals and Mini-Me could probably step into any of the roles by now.
My head is spinning.
I don’t KNOW how I find the time, but I do. I always have and I hope I always will.
In fairness, I rehearse when the girls are in bed. They’re tucked up dreaming and are well looked after by Daddy or Granny. They don’t miss me one bit. The Sundays are hard but it’s only for such a short time. The LMS gets me through the winter. It’s my other family. It keeps me out of trouble.
Yes it’s a lot of work. Yes, it’s busy. Yes it’s a lot on top of being a Mammy AND working a job-job AND trying to write… But it’s worth it.
Every member has a busy life. We all have day jobs. We all have families. We all have commitments. We all get stressed and tired coming up to the show, but then? Get-in day arrives and the curtain gets ready to rise, and we remember WHY we do it.
Today, as you read this, the side door to the stage is rolled up, sunlight flooding the stage. (I hope!) Lighting rigs are hoisted at head height while the crew work on them. Dust is floating around us, like little magic theatre fairies getting ready for some celebration.
The production team are creating the world for the characters to inhabit. This year, they’re building a full sized Casa Rosada and we are taking you all to Argentina. It’s a scaffolded wonder and I’m so exited for the cast to join us in a few hours to step into the world that our producer has created for them.
I’ll arrive in the middle of it at around 1pm and walk onto the stage. I’ll close my eyes. The familiar voices of Hubby and the usual suspects calling instructions to each other, co-operating and working together will make me smile. The sounds of the cordless drill…the smell of fresh wood and sawdust…the muffled conversation of the sound guys from the auditorium… it will be beautiful.
I’ll open my eyes and look at the chaotic scene in front of me, wondering (not for the first time in my theatre life), at how within just a few hours, this chaotic canvas will be transformed into a completely believable world into which our amazing cast will step.
And then I’ll do what I do and get together with my colleagues to get our heads around the problems and challenges that only a production team can face, and by the time our cast arrive, we’ll be ready.
So how do I have the time? How can I be bothered? Is it worth it?
Yes. Because this is ME.
Yes, I have children.
My girls are the most important thing in my world.
They are my show.
They are my production.
They are the choreographed chaos of which I’m most proud, and I’ll direct them through life with the same dedication and love that I put into the shows.
But they are also only a part of me.
Yes, I am their mummy, but I’m still me.
I’m still the drama queen that lives for the stage.
I still love the theatre.
I still love how pretending to be someone else can bring me to emotions that I’ve never experienced. I love to entertain. I love to make people laugh. I love that I can make people cry…
I still get goosebumps when I hear someone hitting that note.
I still get so carried away watching my closest friends on stage, that I cry because I absolutely believe the pain they are conveying.
And even though this year, I am standing in the wings watching the cast on stage, I am proud and excited that they are bringing my version of Evita to life.
And so, standing here today, I won’t feel guilty.
Yes, it’ll be a week of rushing and balancing, but my girls are quite safe and well looked after (the dog is so responsible!), and they know that show week is important to Mammy and to Daddy.
My girls will grow up in rehearsals for shows.
They’ll see the stress and work and time and effort that goes into this “hobby”.
They’ll learn confidence, respect, organisation skills.
They’ll experience the fruits of the long months of hard work, and they’ll learn that if you want something to happen, you must work to make it happen.
They might even perform on stage with me at some point.
Maybe they’ll work backstage with their Daddy.
Maybe they’ll hate it all. That’s OK too.
But if I can’t continue up to be who I’ve always been, just because I’ve been blessed with two little darlings, I’m not doing anyone any favours am I?
I might Be Mammy, but I can still Be Me.
Evita opens on Tuesday 26th and runs until Saturday 30th March.
Tickets for Friday and Saturday are almost sold out, so if you fancy being swept away by a super cast, a beautiful script and incredible music, get your tickets soon.
Buy tickets here