This is long overdue, but my play closed Saturday night, so instead of running around on Mondays (which was my day off) I can slow down a little and write.
Yes, my play. Refuge by Mary Vingoe. I don’t cry very often, but let me tell you I cried in 15 out of 17 performances in my last scene. I played an Eritrean refugee mother who has lost her son to suicide. Refugees issues are front and centre these days and audiences were really engaged in the topic. It was well received by audiences and I have to say I had a wonderful time. It brought the joy of my craft back to me. Friends saw me recently on an episode of a major network show and I have to tell you I got far more out of doing this play than I did with that role. I had my issues with the play itself but I still had the time of my life. The crazy actors, their different personalities, the crappy dressing room, the “places” call. It was like getting back the part of me that I thought was beyond reach. Like discovering sex can actually be so good that you just want more and more of it. I just tingled down to my toes. It was emotionally exhausting no doubt, but when I came home, I would slip into my son’s tented bed and watch him sleep. That shit never gets old. Just watching his lips purse in sleep, hearing his deep breathing, kissing his impossibly soft skin. The play is based on a real Eritrean refugee whose claim was rejected and eventually he committed suicide rather than be returned to his homeland. I still had my son and feeling his breath on my face was an antidote to the despair and pain I portrayed on stage.
My part wasn’t huge, in fact, I was only in 4 short scenes, but I believe they were impactful. It was just what I could handle at this time and it was just what I needed. I’m not sure how people handle all the pressure of a huge, demanding role and also a family life, but I guess that’s just a matter of expanding one’s capacity. Oddly enough one of the actors commented on how much I had to do as both a mother and an actor. I have to admit that at times I feel as if my capacity is not big enough, I often felt frayed when I straddled both worlds. None of them had children or were responsible for taking care of other people. They had lifestyles that supported them. They just cleared their schedules and did the play. They had spouses to make them lunches or quiet spaces to retreat to. If I had an early rehearsal day I grocery shopped or walked the dog (and memorized my lines at the same time) or attended to some errand or another. I checked in with my Buddhist colleagues for updates, cleaned the house, did laundry, put things away. I had a couple of auditions (which I resented) but I did them anyway. I was basically working 6 out of 7 days just over a month (seems longer) but it didn’t really seem like work. I guess that happens when you really love what you’re doing. Hubby had to go away for work for a few days and it was spring break. I arranged a few days in a day camp for the boy. The inlaws came over during that final week of rehearsals (long days). That was a blessing to be sure, but of course, that also means I cooked meals ahead of time for them. Being at rehearsal came to mean an escape; all my energy could be focused one direction not several. The minute I was on my way home, it was about juggling and picking up things and meeting others’ expectations and it was jarring at times.
Still, I learned a lot about my capacity to juggle things and handle stress. All in all, I think I did alright.
I’m sad right now though. It was great working f/t doing something I loved. I received a good review for my work, got my picture in the paper and I admit it, it was good for my battered old ego. It was the first show my mum missed, but she was with me in spirit. I learned a lot. Onward and upward.