My being a professional theaterist has made my children, perhaps, a bit weirder than they would otherwise be.

The good news is that Silas, at least, has a firm grasp on fiction and reality. When we go see a play, he understands that all those adults are just pretending. He’s been to more rehearsals than I care to think about. He’s spent time with actors and sat through production meetings. He gets theater.

Silas at rehearsal for The Great American Theater Company, Petra in utero.

He and Petra are both very good audience members (Silas being a bit better, because he’s older). They know how much an audience matters, too. When they go to the children’s museum, they’re as likely to play “audience” for the other children–including polite and appropriately-timed applause–as to dress up and be in a show themselves. They understand that there’s something going on backstage. They’ve been in lighting booths and played with live light boards. They know how gels change the light color and how mics make actors louder. They’ve seen sets being built under the work lights and coming to life in a performance. They are arguably too familiar with the process.

“Painting the set” like Mr. Shannon (a set designer I’ve worked with a lot).

Silas often chooses to pretend to be an actor pretending to be…a whatever. Like, “I’m an actor PRETENDING to be a knight in shining armor. Will you watch my show?”

Silas, pretending to be an actor, pretending to be Robin Hood (in the scene where he’s sitting at the camp site, burning the soup because he’s so distracted with thinking about Maid Marian).

One day, he was playing with some friends, and he told them that they were having rehearsal. After a bit, he tried to re-start the pretending from the beginning, repeating the same words. He was awfully frustrated that his friends did not understand that it was now time for the performance. Amateurs.

Another time, I heard him telling his “little girl cousins” that actors need to make sure they talk loud enough for everyone to hear them.

He also likes to build sets, and describe them in great detail.

“See the waterfall, the train tracks, the dark scary forest, and the volcano?”

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