There's a point in the show, during the encore, when I get a running start from the audience, leap onto the stage, and propel myself high into the air.
Usually I measure the height of the stage before the show, as I know I can jump onto a stage no higher than an inch above my belly button; anything higher and I'll take the stairs or set down my violin and pull myself up.
In the 3.5 years I've done the show, I've successfully executed this jump hundreds of times.
Last night marked the third time I have failed.
The first time was a few years ago at a venue in Florida. While I had noticed the curtain across the front of the stage, I had not realized it was being held up by a round, brass rail an inch in front of the stage. When I jumped, my foot made contact with the curtain, encased around the brass rail, and instantly slipped back to the ground. It was shocking, because I had never not made the jump. At first, I couldn't really process what had happened. I remember turning to look at the people in the front row, who seemed confused and bewildered...as though not making the jump was somehow intentional.
The second time was a few months ago at a school show. The students had set their cellos and basses in front of the stage (a common occurrence), and it seemed from the top of the aisle I would have space to fit in between the instruments. I realized right before I started to jump, however, that my left foot was about to clip some cello's scroll. Since breaking an instrument would be pretty awful, I instinctively moved to the right, losing all of my momentum though already physically committed to the jump. My right leg made it up and over the edge, fully extended onto the stage, while my left foot stayed on the ground, hopping, trying to maintain balance so I could pull my right leg back down. Crisis averted. No injury to a student's instrument or my person.
Last night's theatre required that I run down a huge set of stairs, ending maybe four feet in front of the stage, and then jump. In theory, I should have made the jump: it was an inch above my belly button. In practice, I didn't have enough momentum coming off the stairs.
What ensued was a comedy of errors.
My right foot made contact with the stage and slipped off. Since I still had momentum forward, however, my shin grated against the edge of the stage as my leg was coming back down. I had a one bar solo coming up, so my first priority was to get on the stage for my solo. I pulled myself up, hit my mark, and played my one bar solo...only to discover that the collision had knocked my violin wildly out of tune. About the same time, one of my suspenders popped off my pants and proceeded to flap about wildly during our next bit of choreography where we jumped in place while playing.
I was laughing so hard onstage at the hilarity of everything that I failed to become acutely aware of the pain in my shin until we bowed and I ran off stage. I found some light, looked down at my pant leg, and realized I was bleeding through my pants. I pulled up my pant leg to examine my battle wound, and my hearing kicked back in...
...no, it can't be...they're asking for a second encore?!
Of course the night I collide with the stage, bleed through my pants, knock my violin out of tune, and lose a suspender, is the night the audience asks for a second encore!
The band went back out and started playing "Rasputin" while I tried to pull myself together.
I attempted to tune my violin, but it was a lost cause. For situations like this, we keep a spare violin offstage, tuned and ready to go. So, I made the necessary equipment changes, re-clipped my suspender, and went onstage just in time to sword fight with Shaina. In hindsight, that little fact could not be more poetic.
Ironically enough, I'd been having a great show, one of my best in recent memory. And yet, in last minute
of the encore, almost everything that could go wrong did, and incredibly so.
skipped the signing for the night and cleaned up my bloody leg in the
bathroom. The theatre manager grabbed a first aid kit and put some
disinfectant on my wound, small but surprisingly deep. It's pretty
swollen and sore today, but it should heal just fine.
Rest assured: the stage may have won this battle, but it certainly has not won the war.
In other news, my mom's famous beef barley soup is now cooking away on the stove. It makes me unbelievably happy that eating it here in the Netherlands on a day off has become a tour tradition. Dinner in two hours!