Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Art Imitates Life and Vice Versa

I don't always believe in a higher plan. Sometimes I think life is just random and how we deal with it sets up the next chain in a sequence of events and more random stuff as it comes along.  Sometimes though I am struck by certain "coincidences" that happen. There are times when I look around and know that everything I am has prepared me for this particular moment.

Doing theatre is like that for me sometimes. I can not say that I haven't learned something from just about every play I've ever done. Sometimes the "aha" moment comes in just the audition, as I experienced when I auditioned for 100 Saints You Should Know.  There is a monologue where the character I wanted to play talks about loneliness. At some point delivering that monologue it stopped being the character and started being me. It was my heart I was laying open for everyone to see. But I got to hide behind the character, so it was safe.

I played a father in Brighton Beach Memoirs when I was wondering if I'd be a good father. I'm not sure if the play came to me, or I came to the play with that one.  I did You Can't Take it With You at a time when I was trying to learn to lighten up. The Laramie Project was one that left me heartbroken every night, but it also spurred me to political action.  I played Mel in The Prisoner of Second Avenue and delivered a couple of monologues which foreshadowed my own experience of being fired from a job I'd given my life to.

This list goes on and on. I don't know if the audience walks away with new found understandings of anything, but as an actor, I certainly do.

So now I'm in the most timely play of my life. It's a new work called Saint Paulie's Delight.  I play Paul, one half of the couple, Paul and Oscar. The two of them have been together for twenty years and now the state in which they live has just passed marriage equality.  Something they never anticipated when they got together twenty years earlier. Now Paul wants to get married and begins planning the wedding to end all weddings. Everything is perfect until Oscar drops the bombshell that he doesn't want to get married. He likes things just like they are.

What I love about the script is that it takes an honest look at relationships and the whole picture. I won't tell you everything because you should come see it, but there are some lines where I stop and think "wow, that's so true."   It's so easy to get caught up in the "right to marry" fight that we sometimes forget that not everyone needs that. Not everyone wants to conform to expectations of the norm.

I believe we should have the right to marry and the right to decide not to marry if that's what we choose.

So, how does this play affect me like the others? The other night when we were running it, I found myself holding back tears as Oscar tells Paul he doesn't want kids and that if Paul does, he should go out and find someone who wants that too.

I never really thought I wanted kids. The whole notion terrifies me, but hearing those words, even if they are in a script and said to my character and not me, makes me very sad.  Personally I'm more like Oscar in this play, as I don't want to bend to societal norms, but for a moment each night I find myself wanting the same thing Paul wants.  I want kids and a family. I want a white picket fence,  soccer practice, and a nosy neighbor to watch Wheel of Fortune with.

Who knew?

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