Sailing the Seven Seas

“My heart yearns for the sea,” sighs a sailor as he gazes wistfully into the horizon, where the sky and sea seem to blend together… What was so appealing about the sea? The intrigue of the unknown? The tantalization of treasure? The exhilaration of adventure? Behold—the lure of the sea!

Perhaps I got a little carried away, but don’t you think life’s so much more exciting when there’s a bit of imagination? For us, life on tour is one big routine: get up, go to the theater, have dance class, eat, warm up, perform, go back to the hotel, sleep. Repeat, for a few months. So I like to inspire myself sometimes by changing my perspective. These days, I’m musing about life on the vast ocean.

Did you know that the stage is actually very similar to a ship? I realized this connection the other day when sitting in the auditorium, staring at the stage. The curtains lining the two sides of the stage looked like small sails and the main curtain was like the main sail. As our stage manager walked solemnly across the stage with his hands clasped behind his back, I was reminded of a ship’s captain surveying the deck.

A ship’s staff is called a crew and theaters have stage crews. Sailing terms for sides of the ship have stage parallels: the bow is like the downstage, the aft is upstage, port side would be stage left, and starboard stage right.

All successful ship journeys start and end at a dock, and our theater experience begins and concludes at the loading dock.

The ship has a rigging system for pulling up the sails, and theaters call their system of ropes and pipes “rigging” as well. A captain of the stage might lift his head and holler, amidst the tumult of clangor around him: “Up on the rail, fly out number 35!” And a muscle-bound man some 80 feet above will pull on the rope, lift the counter weight, and fly open a beautiful new sail.

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