Timeless reflections on the allure, the romance, and the realities of performing life come from two movies released at pivotal points of Garland’s career. Summer Stock is her final MGM film in 1950. I Could Go On Singing is the final film of her career. The following two speeches address “the hokum” and charm of live performance.
Lesson 7: Theatre gets you, like a virus, but one you’re thrilled to have.
“Show business? There’s nothing else in the world. If I couldn’t be up here I’d work backstage or sell tickets…. Take a whiff of that. You like it? …. That’s greasepaint…. Go easy. That’s very potent stuff. You smell that once too often it goes a way down deep inside of you. Oh you can wipe it off your face alright but you’ll never get it out of your blood. No, it’s the same old stuff but that’s one of the reasons I love the theatre. And everything it stands for. The heart aches, the excitement, the applause, the lights, the hokum. Everything.”
Summer Stock (1950). Joe Ross to Jane Falbury
Lesson 8: Performance has its magic, but it does not have magic healing powers.
“You know. there’s an old saying. When you go on stage, apparently, you don’t feel any pain at all. When the light hits you, you don’t feel anything. It’s a stinking lie.”
I Could Go On Singing (1963). Jenny Bowman to David Donne
© Martha Wade Steketee (November 23, 2009)