Hello Gentle Reader!
I hope you had a really fun Halloween!
It is my most favorite time of the year! Rehearsal time! 😂😂😂 I am sorta kidding.
I know it has been a while, but I wanted to write a post tying in my recent trip to see family with my latest project. First though, I had to make sure that my day job was staying on track and we had a lot to do! I am learning a TON of stuff and sometimes my head swims with all the information but then my brain dries out and I have to refill it again. LOL. It is a pretty great problem to have.
Early October, I took my dad to go and see his siblings. It was a really fun road trip! I hadn’t seen him so animated and smiley in a really long time. His memory is going and he is totally aware of it. I think that makes it harder when you know you aren’t going to remember what you used to know. I stress about that all the time. Seriously, I worry because I forget stuff more often than I think I should. If it happens to be important, it will stick. Everything else? Slides away like it was on a non-stick pan.
My dad was worried that he wouldn’t get to see his brothers and sisters before he couldn’t remember them anymore. I had the time and I haven’t seen them myself in over 35+ years so I planned it out with my mom; and off we went!
My Dear Reader, I cannot express how incredible the transformation in him was. His walking pace quickened and he used his cane a little less. His speech was less halted. He literally brightened. I don’t know if it was because he was smiling all the time or what, but it was contagious. He still fumbled on his words because sometimes he forgets what things are called, or he can’t get the word to travel from his brain to his mouth.
One of the things that I noticed was that he had a lot of stories to share and he was a Talkie Thomas (I hate that only women’s names were used for talkative people.) Even when he couldn’t get right words out or he repeated phrases, my aunts and uncles paid attention. He is a natural born story teller, and to be honest, my whole family is. I learned so many things in that one weekend that I never knew. It wasn’t because I had forgotten them, which was shocking. I laughed so much hearing about parties they had while they were young. I was saddened learning about those that have passed not only recently, due to Covid-19 but in the past.
It wasn’t just the stories they told, but how they told them. The pitch in the voice when something funny was supposed to land. The sighs that broke through sentences that showed how deeply they still hurt or the senselessness for the loss. The excitement they had sharing something that was unbelievable.
I think that is a lot of what my dad is missing now. With everyone working and him being stuck at home because he might get lost or have a seizure or something, he doesn’t have someone to talk to or do things with. I try to go over when I can but I forgot how much time you surrender to rehearsals and research for shows.
The other thing I noticed was how similar the communication dynamics are at my immediate family functions as well as extended. Did my siblings and I learn this from our parents and their siblings?
In my current project, A Nice family Christmas by Phil Olson, this family unit is all about avoiding emotions, and their communication skills are pretty terrible. Is it a learned thing handed down from parents to children? I don’t think it is just about them wanting to avoid issues, but the complexities of life and time that prevents them from communicating and bonding more.
My character is the oldest and favorite son, a doctor, self sabotages, loves his mother but keeps her at an arm’s length so she doesn’t see his faults, has an addictive personality, 5 months sober after 2 stints in rehab, prone to emotional outbursts, in the middle of a separation and may or may not have OCD.
He’s has a lot going on, AND this is a comedy, so finding out how to bring all of that together has been challenging! It is a great challenge but I am struggling to find that perfect balance of being able to be funny while maintaining all of those other layers bubbling under just enough to show through. So, as you can imagine, writing this all out had to sit on the back burner for a hot week or six. 😳😳
So, My Lovely Reader, I look back on that family visit and try to recall all that my dad was working through. Joy, camaraderie, excitement, sadness, forgetfulness, hope, love, avoidance, and anger. He went through so many feelings but it always came back to that happiness and contentment.
Our opening night is the Friday after Thanksgiving! I just hope I found the right formula for this character by then. He is the most complicated character whose story I have the privilege of sharing. I don’t want to look back at him and say, “sorry buddy, you were not as fully realized as I wanted to make you.” That would make me really stop and question my skills as a storyteller…😔I would wonder if it was just because this was the first show back after so long. Or could it be that there were issues of my own that I haven’t resolved yet, so it is preventing me from accessing those feelings out of self preservation.
But to dwell on that now may only solidify the future and bring that to fruition. So I banish those thoughts and say bring me my challenge!
Until the next time, Kind Reader, stay safe and alert. Treat your self and other with kindness… AND WISH ME LUCK!!! 😂😂😂