The Play's the Thing
THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY
The Play's the Thing
A desire for father-daughter time revealed a personal affinity for theater.
ROBERT E. DELANEY, O.D.
"Theater? You've got to be kidding! Theater is for sissies," would surely have been my answer when asked whether I wanted to be in a show during my high school days. I was much more interested in playing in a rock band and throwing the discus and shot put for the track team. Further, the few times I went on a school trip to see a show did little to pique my interest. Frankly, I was more interested in the girls sitting next to me.
Today, I'm a very busy optometrist with two active children. Although, I've always had plenty in common with my son, Joe — we're guys, and we like to do guy things, such as sports — my daughter Kati is a different story. She loves theater.
Back in my rock n' roll days, I met a musician who became the music director at our local school. He produces and directs the middle school and high school musicals. We became reacquainted, and he encouraged me to consider performing with Kati in his local theater group. I decided that if I was going to drive Kati the 50-mile round trip to the theater group, I might as well give it a try. In addition, doing so would give me some quality time with my daughter.
A few weeks later, Kati and I went to try out for the local production of A Christmas Carol. I planned to audition for the chorus only. Unbeknownst to me, however, auditions for Harvey were also going on, and I was informed that I would be trying out for both shows. I wound up cast as an actor in both productions. Soon, I discovered that acting was a great deal of fun.
For example, I had a blast playing the role of Charles, the drunken, senile, almost-blind butler in a stage version of Dracula. In fact, one of my patients who came to see the show said I played the role so naturally, that he wasn't sure whether he could trust me with his eyes anymore, and he gave me a good wink.
Dr. Delaney as Mr. Lundie in the local production of the musical Brigadoon.
Acting and optometry
I've always focused on making every patient visit to my practice a pleasant experience. Acting has helped with this, as the better actor I become, the more entertaining I am for my patients. This, in turn, puts my patients at ease, which I've found garners more accurate test results. And, when patients are happy with your demeanor and services, it leads to patient referrals.
In addition, acting has doubled as an unintentional networking tool. A bunch of fellow actors and those who work behind the scenes on the productions with which I've been involved are now my patients. Also, audience members who've noticed in my playbook bio that I'm optometrist have made appointments with me.
To date, I have performed in more than 25 shows — currently in Brigadoon, as Mr Lundie — and I sit on the board of directors for a local theater group. Next, I'll be directing the comedy Love, Sex and the IRS. Being a sissy has turned out to not only be a blast, but great for business too. OM
To follow Dr Delaney's theater endeavors, check out www.countryplayers.org.
DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2010