First Performance

First performance


Dank, dusty, sweat-smells

in the soft blue light


Rope, sandbags,

tape-marks glow.


props on the table

in regimental order

for Act 1, 2, 3. 

            Black on white sign

            ‘Silence during Performance’

Soft sneakers gently press

in front of each other. 

Movements slow

- considered care. 

Audience clapping.

Murmur as Curtains

Close Act 1.

Audrey rushes off-stage

clattering loudly

chattering to her waiting beau

declaring her excitement

at first performance.

            Black on white sign

            ‘Silence for Performance’

Stage Manager’s finger

on mouth for silence



frustrated grab

in the once-again dim light.

His hand wraps

around wooden grip

of ‘Silence!’ sign.

It bangs impatiently

against his thigh

with each annoyed step. 

Hushed stumble down

to dressing dungeons. 

Door locked

can’t knock

(too loud). 

He scratches

the paintwork

reigns in


with rebuke ready. 

Click (unlock)

creak open.

Not welcome.


Forces ‘Silence’ sign

through crack.         

            Black on white sign

            ‘Silence for Performance’.          

Job done.

Races back upstairs,

heart pumping

– missed

Curtain Open Act 2.


Act 3.

Clunk. Thump.  Clunk. Clunk. 

Drunken heels

approach uncaring,

echoing through wooden

stairs and stage floor. 


Mouth opens

frustration bites

hard and he

forgets the sign;




the cast on stage

into obedience.


Even the audience

waits in breath-held awe

for the next performance….


Frances Macaulay Forde © 1998


◄ David Cooke's 'After Hours'

Raindrops ►


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Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 6th Aug 2018 02:59

Thanks for the like, Big Sal and for sharing your story. Very interesting... food for thought (or a poem), perhaps?

Big Sal

Mon 6th Aug 2018 01:30

A few years back I read one of my poems on the radio at a local station around where I live, and I made a mistake as soon as it was my turn to read. Luckily I had the time and the unprofessional courtesy to nervously restart my lines instead of owning my mistake 😕 (I didn't practice it much). I can only imagine how it is to do theatre on stage with an audience waiting. I don't do open mics because there are none close by where I live, but if I did, I'd probably just make the same mistakes again. Another good poem Frances.👍

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Martin Elder

Tue 10th Jul 2018 14:46

This r5eads in itself like directions for a play . so wonderfully and beautifully crafted.
Love it
nice one

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Frances Macaulay Forde

Mon 9th Jul 2018 02:45

Thank you for the 'likes', Jon and Anya, so pleased you enjoyed the rush!

Cynthia; I've been involved in community theatre most of my life so written from experience.

Ray; I have always preferred backstage and held many roles - Stage Manager only one of them.

There's nothing quite like the thrill of 1st performance...

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Sat 7th Jul 2018 23:07

Superb rendition of adrenalin and cramped excitement with all the pitfalls of the provincial scene. Wonderful - I've been there, done that myself, trying to read entry and voice cues in charge of musicians. Well fraught.


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Sat 7th Jul 2018 18:02

I've done several amateur 'plays' from musicals, light opera, and pure drama. You have scored hugely with these lines.

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Sat 7th Jul 2018 16:40

Hi Frances,

Amazing poem, all the rush! The atmosphere, I can feel it! Thank you. Anya xxx

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