Whenever I'm in a play, my mother makes candy for opening night. (Like tonight.)
Not just for me. Not just for the cast.
For everybody. Every last person in the theatre.
Jackie (that might be "Mrs. Isaac" to you) spends weeks making the candy, hours bagging it — and twelve months negotiating with me about how it is and is not to be distributed.
Through her generosity, candy making talent, love of son, and motherly desire for control, Jackie has taught me something about my own motivation in the theatre. (She has taught me nothing about letting her preview blog posts that mention her.)
First, her thirst for control.
Just to help me keep this straight, let me summarize the rules...
"Do you really want me to do this again? I'm happy to make candy for everyone."
What It Is:
Two pieces per tiny bag: one dark chocolate, one milk chocolate, both with a lovely, crunchy, buttery brittle inside. (There is a long-lasting family debate over which chocolate is better. People have taken sides and dug in. In a rare defection, I recently switched — for good — to the younger, more life-affirming milk chocolate team.)
Prohibition Against Selling:
No leftover candy may be sold at the rest of the shows.
Sure, people might want to pay for it, but noooo. We cannot sell it. Why, Mom? "If we sell it, we face greater expectations — and perhaps litigation if someone doesn't like it, chokes on it, or dies from it. I'm not a professional candy maker, so it is free." Then, sotto voce, "I'm warning you, Artie."Only in your own mother's face can you see the world's most beautiful smile combined with a withering, disapproving glare.Official Annual Protest Over Bags:
"The bag has no class." It is a tiny ziplock bag. It is humiliating to both candy and candy maker. But better bags make too much noise in a theatre. And we don't want to contribute to that in any way. This is a yearly frustration, as noted in the minutes.What Does The Label Mean?
"The labels that Artie printed don't make sense." Each bag bears a no-class mailing label with a cheerful call to action. [Note to Mom: It's adapted from a line from the play.]
There are more rules, but — really — you just want the candy.
Now I shall describe how her candy making is like my acting. (Just crunchier. And universally appealing.)
They are both sweet treats
created by hobbyists
who eschew going pro.
Mom doesn't want to be a professional candy maker. People have long asked Jackie, "Why don't you sell this?"
Her answer: "I don't want to."
She doesn't want the litigation and headaches.
And I don't want to be a professional actor. People have asked me (with a smile): "Is your goal Broadway?"
My answer: "Heavens no."
I want to live with my family. They are Ohioans.
Like my mother, I just want to offer a sweet treat to our friends and beloved town.
Must every ambition be world domination?
Jackie's candy will be given to everyone in the theatre tonight. (Please see above for rules.) Any candy left over will be offered — egad — for free at the bake sale in the lobby during later performances. (Feel free to make an unrelated, spontaneous, tax-deductible contribution to Available Light at the rate of $1.25 per piece of free candy.)
Tickets are selling briskly — happily, some remain available for all shows. Ticket information: HarperLeeAVLT.com.