It’s Wednesday afternoon and tomorrow is the performance of a show that I have been working on for about 6 weeks. It’s called Dora and it’s the story of a 28-year-old woman who, when given the opportunity to return to her home town for an incredible promotion, must first confront herself at four different ages to deal with the sordid memories of her growing-up years. This show is an actor’s dream because of the range of emotions and energies you get to play, but as the performance date draws near, I’m starting to feel like I haven’t gotten nearly as much out of it as I needed or wanted to.
Dora was abused as a child and had a rocky relationship with both of her parents; a part I’ve never had to play before. This show is unique for an actor in that a lot of the character work is done for you because the other characters themselves are Dora’s mind and heart splayed out on a stage in front of her. To this point in the process I’ve understood the situation and the pain. I’ve felt with her, but I haven’t been able to find it in myself to feel like her.
I’m still playing the part of an outside party; a feeling friend conveying on this woman’s behalf, rather than taking her on and then telling my own story. Because of that my performance has been a little flat and disconnected; as though I were a really smart audience member rather than a product of the four girls in front of me. I haven’t broken through and become her and now time is up.
My greatest fear with this show has nothing to do with the audience’s reaction or how this show will or won’t boost my reputation in the BYU theatre department. My greatest fear is that I will likely never get to play this part again, and I’m not giving Dora the integrity that the text demands. I don’t want to look back on this role and wish that I could have done more.
I feel that about relationships in my life as well. I know that these frustrating plays and disappointing relationships really are an opportunity to learn, but sometimes I wish I didn’t have to guinea pig it on such wonderful texts or such unforgettable people. I’ll never get to play the role of Dora again; I’ll never get to play the role of his best friend again-that high school boy I knew and left behind. The relationships in my life that haven’t gone as planned have taught me more about myself and my own weaknesses and tendencies than any other experiences of my life, but why I had to lose some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known in the process is still a lesson I’m waiting to learn.
When asked what my favorite scripture is; I’ve started saying that it is John 11:35. Now, this isn’t a cop out; it isn’t me just picking a scripture that is easy to memorize and be done with it. John 11:35 reads “Jesus wept.” This is the time when Jesus comes to Mary and Martha and finds that Lazarus has died. Jesus knows that he has the power to raise Lazarus from the dead and that all will be well in just minutes, but that doesn’t mean that Mary and Martha aren’t legitimately hurting. Jesus weeps because he’s validating their pain, a pain that he would know more acutely very soon thereafter. He knows we will find even better opportunities then the one’s that are in front of us now, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t allowed to regret things or remember the pain of something long enough to learn from it.
I often wish that I could get the chance to save my encounters with certain plays and certain people for when I’m already a strong actor or a person expert in relationships, but something tells me that even the situations that I still sincerely regret flubbing up and haven’t gotten over, were set up exactly as they should have been to affect me the way that they needed too. We aren’t superhuman. Hard things are for our experience and shall be for our good, but Jesus wept and it’s ok to regret and grieve. Know in the end, though, that Jesus weeps knowing something else is on the way and expects us to be ready to receive that something else when it comes.