Hello Gentle Reader!
Happy holiday season if you celebrate it in any fashion and for those that don’t I hope you are having a fantastic time. I am usually only a Halloween and New Year’s kinda guy, but with my last project, you can say that I am in the Xmas spirit, I suppose.
I have a question for you my Dear Reader. What is the difference between the following line:
“… my very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle, with a compass and this thing which tells time built right into the stock.”
“… MY very own legendary official Red Ryder carbine action 200 shot range model air rifle. With a compass! And this thing… which tells TIME built right into the stock.”
The way that I see it, the first version has the same sort of half committed involvement that the narrator from the film uses. He is invested, but it just feels like he has told this story before to other people so it isn’t novel or new to him anymore. In the second version, I play it so that it feels like actually owning this present is a dream that I don’t want to wake from and the details of the gun that I have been going on and on about are highlighted since they are referred to 99% of the time the air rifle is mentioned. But I think the Time emphasis was me bringing my life experience to the piece.
Christmas Eve was the first day since closing night of A Christmas Story that I could say that line without feeling the burning sensation in my nose and eyes of tears that wanted to be set free.
I can’t exactly say when it happened, but I suspect that it was some time during week 2 of performances that the line above began to morph from the previous to the latter.
I don’t know if I had mentioned it here yet, but I had so much work to do with the script that I read it multiple times a day on the weekends and at least once every day. I listened the the audio version I made while I was in traffic on the way to rehearsal. I listened to it at work when I wasn’t in meetings. All to share this memory for this character.
But what is a memory? It is a snippet of time that you are recalling at a different point in time. Sometimes it is purposely done and other times it could be involuntarily triggered by sound, scent or emotion and situation.
On closing night, I said that line, and before I could continue with the rest of the scene, I had this magnificent surge of love, heartache, stress, fondness and a few other emotions, all at once. I became aware of the symbol of authoritative and parental figures and friends (that my cast mates Shawna and Keith represented) had turned into a focused source of those people in my life that I don’t see, can’t see, won’t see anymore or haven’t seen in a very long time.
It was an overwhelming sensation. Then it circled back to the sadness that this little show of ours had grown to become something so special to me and it was taking the last breaths of life. I took a few moments to try and force my voice back “into character” but as a proponent of “feel your feelings” I delivered the lines “The greatest Christmas gift I had ever received…. Or ever WOULD receive” with that bubble in my throat and powered through “pranging ducks on the wing and getting off spectacular hip shots.” I could only hope that through my quaking voice the audience could understand what I was saying, Kind Reader.
I felt a wee bit foolish but there was nothing I could have done. In far away voices, I could hear the backstage manager and some of the others, waiting to enter the stage for bows, commenting or gasping that this moment was happening.
During the first attempt at creating an audio aid, which I recorded on a whim, I can hear my final speech get a little emotionally shaky. I wish that I had paid more attention to that moment so that I could steel myself of this and present the show to the audience just as we had done the rest of the run.
Even before this show began I have been fighting with the fleeting nature of time and the ideas that some people had about it. And I took on some of their baggage from them and still shoulder. So couple that baggage with the reminiscing of friends and family and a storm was inevitable.
It is a lot of energy to process and keep in check in the space of the 15 seconds that it takes to say that line and I did well every other night. But time will find a way of catching up with you.
With that, let me just shut off this light on 2022 and the wonderful production of A Christmas Story that I was so fortunate to be a part of. Thanks for letting me bend your ear one more time this year, Dear Reader. Take care of yourself and those you care about! Stay safe and alert and I will see you in 2023.