“Farewell and thank you so much; you have been wonderful, but it is time for me to go. Showing you what I can do has been fun, and I am glad you enjoyed it and appreciated it. Good-bye,…for now.”
The curtain call is very familiar to those who perform in front of an audience and to anyone who has seen a live performance, but it is more relevant to everyday life than you may think, because we all “move on” at different stages of our lives, leaving home, jobs, family, friends, and (some of us) the stage. I have left many things behind in my 30+ years onstage as a professional dancer, singer, and actor, and I cannot count the number of curtain call bows I have taken in the last 3 decades before audiences all over the world. It suffices to say I have taken a lot of bows and I have received lots of applause, not usually just for me, but anyway…
We performers have to be among the luckiest people on the planet! REALLY! How many people get to go to work everyday and do something they love to do, while receiving instantaneous positive reinforcement, or as we like to call it, applause, from a captive group of strangers?! Throughout a performance, that audience will often (hopefully) applaud to show their appreciation for what we do, sometimes even bringing a show to a halt, but at the end of the show, we get to say thank you to them by taking our bow, usually with pride, grace, and dignity. Then we exit the stage, doff our costumes and make-up, don our own clothes, and leave the theater to live out our normal lives or at least the rest of the night. When you stop and think about it, this is pretty much exactly like leaving school or a job. Isn’t it? …saying good-bye, leaving the last, hopefully the best impression you can, and attempting to insure that you are remembered fondly and that you are even missed? I’ll bet you have even heard those words of “encouragement” from a friend or family member as you leave; “Don’t burn any bridges as you go.” Right?
So, what am I talking about? I’m talking about being thankful, showing thanks, being gracious, being mature, being dignified, and being professional, to the very last moment when you bow… or bow out! Look at some of the definitions of the word “bow.”
an appearance by actors or performers at the end of the concert or play in order to acknowledge the applause of the audience
Synonyms: A curtain call (often known as a walkdown or a final bow)
occurs at the end of a performance when individuals return to the stage to be recognized by the audience for their performance.
In musical theater, the performers typically recognize the orchestra and its conductor at the end of the curtain call.
an acknowledgment of appreciation
take a bow to give a bow at the end of a performance, to thank the audience
bow 1. [countable] the act of bending the top part of your body forward to show respect for someone when you meet them, or as a way of thanking an audience
take/give a bow (=bow to the audience at the end of a performance)
bow 2 (bou) v. bowed, bow·ing, bows v.intr.
1. To bend or curve downward; stoop.
2. To incline the body or head or bend the knee in greeting, consent, courtesy, acknowledgment, submission, or veneration.
3. To yield in defeat or out of courtesy; submit.
See Synonyms at yield.
10. bow out, to withdraw by choice, as from a task; retire.
Bowing, taking a bow and bowing out are defined and described using words like courtesy, acknowledge, greet, submit, and receive, recognize, and respect! The very nature of bowing is acknowledging someone else, a member of an audience, a boss. It is about recognizing them graciously with respect. It is about being present to receive the accolades given you by an “audience” for whom you have worked, honing a craft and displaying that craft for them to see. That’s right. Your bow is a way to say, “Thank you” to anyone who has accepted and enjoyed your artistry, your hard work, your time, your education, your skill and talents, your product. Perhaps, your bowing (out) is your gracious expression of respect for their inability to recognize what you have done and/or their unwillingness to acknowledge it. When you leave, they are left with only the image, the memory of the experience that you have left with them. So, how DO you want to be remembered?
I know how I would like to be remembered. I know also that how I want to be remembered has absolutely nothing to do with how I WILL be remembered. So, if I have no power over how you will remember me, then I will show you who I am:
To all of the people before whom I have performed on roller-skates in the last six years at The Starlight Halle in Bochum, Germany, NRW; to all of the performers with whom I have worked, with whom I have shared dressing rooms and the stage, with whom I have experienced rehabilitation; to all of those who have worked front of house, orchestra or band, wardrobe, technical, skates, stage management, lighting and sound, press, hair and make-up, fire department, physical therapy, creative and general management, security, box office, cleaning, general maintenance, and all: I take my bow and I bow out acknowledging the wonderful work we all have done over the course of these many years to put on the single most difficult spectacle of a production that I have ever experienced! Whether you know me or not, whether you speak to me or not, whether you look at me or not, I here within acknowledge that I see you and respect the good work that you do, because… “That’s how I roll!” With this my …not so final bow, I wave good-bye, and I thank you!
…See you in two weeks!