SUFFER FOR YOUR ART – Bo in the trenches / by Bo Gerard

Every one of us has suffered for our art, in one way or another. And most often it is silent suffering, unshared with clients, agents and audience members. Below, I will share some of my experiences, and I hope that you will share your own with me in the comments.

 A Musical in which I was unconscious during the curtain call.

A Musical in which I was unconscious during the curtain call.

Alas, I am no stranger to performing while suffering. At one time or another I have performed with - a broken toe, a fractured pelvis, a 102 fever, and I have even performed while semi-conscious. This last one was documented in a former blog named EXPLORING THE SUB, SEMI AND UN-CONSCIOUS! (Click the Playbill pic to read it.)

Every performer has had to perform while not feeling well, in extreme heat, in bad performance situations (dinner being served while you perform, or bounce house next to the stage, etc.) We’ve all had to try to win over audiences that were too far away, or even separated by a road - as I encountered at one festival.

 Me, with shin splints, walking pneumonia and a hair in my mouth

Me, with shin splints, walking pneumonia and a hair in my mouth

But one show stands out as the most challenging single experience I have ever had. I was cast in Casa Mañana’s first production of “A Chorus Line”. We had 10 days to learn the show, and it was performed in the round! During rehearsals I developed Shin Splints, and if you’ve never had them I am happy for you. I also came down with a case of Walking Pneumonia a day or two before we opened.

 The indomitable Tina Walsh!

The indomitable Tina Walsh!

Others in the cast had it even worse than I did. Our Cassie, the amazing Tins Walsh, badly sprained her ankle the day before we opened, and thanks to pain killers, heavy wrapping and pure determination, went on - and killed. (Cassie has the iconic and show stopping number “The Music and the Mirror”, which is a challenge for any performer – even with both ankles working.)

One final test of my metal was when, in one of the performances of this same show, after my character blows out his knee and is lying on the ground writhing and screaming in pain, a cast member brings me some pain killers and a cup of water to wash them down. But this night, as I popped the pills and was about to drink the water, I saw a large curly, black hair floating in the cup. What could I do? I had to drink. This is how we suffer for our art.

So, now I would like to hear your stories of grit, determination and suffering. I sure you have some whoppers!