Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"All the World's a Stage"

I haven't written very much about acting, directing, and all things theatrical.  This is mainly because I am still hurting from my last experience.  (All theater people are weird in one way or another.  Don't let anyone ever tell you differently!)  Nevertheless, I have a wonderful avocation that I have enjoyed (mostly) for more than 30 years.  Since I'm not doing theater right now and I am seriously missing it, the very least I can do is write about it!  "All the World's a Stage" is a true statement, but the stage is also a world of its own.

Just to kind of prove both to you and to myself that I have had great experiences in "show business" and I want to share some of my stories.  I hope you can bear it!  Rather than getting into my whole history in theater (I have been involved with more than 40 shows!), I'll just start with a definite highlight.  I'll tell you about the best complement I ever received in theater.

About two years ago, I was thrilled to be cast as Ethel in "On Golden Pond".  Most everyone saw that movie; if you did, then you might remember that Ethel is the role played by Katherine Hepburn.   It was a great movie and the play is even better.

A Quick Synopsis:    "On Golden Pond" by Ernest Thompson
The plot focuses on aging couple Ethel and Norman Thayer, who spend each summer at their cottage on a lake in Maine, called Golden Pond.  During the summer the story takes place, they are visited by estranged daughter, Chelsea with her new fianc√© and his son, Billy.   At Chelsea's request Billy remains with Norman and Ethel for the summer.  The play explores the often turbulent relationship the young woman shared with her father growing up, the development of a loving relationship between Norman and Billy, Ethel's realization of  the gradual decline in both Norman's physical and mental condition, and the difficulties faced by a couple in the twilight years of a long marriage.  It is a sweet, funny, honest, and very poignant look at what could very well be a family like yours. 
The quality of the cast was very good.  Norman, Chelsea, and Billy were played by very talented and capable actors, whom I respected and enjoyed.

Ethel is deliciously complex role, a real challenge for an actor.*  It was one of the most difficult and emotional roles I have ever played.  The emotional range that she goes through is quite broad  and I loved exploring all of her facets and making her into a real person that the audience could believe.

The audiences were appreciative and attentive.  Over all it was terrific.

On the last night there was a woman in a wheelchair in the first row.  She was about 20 years older than I (which puts her around 75-80).  She and her daughter were very faithful season ticket holders, so I had seen them at the theater frequently over the years, but didn't really know them.  In fact, I never even knew their names.  After the performance that night, as the actors greeted the audience in the lobby as usual, the two women came over to me.  The daughter complimented the show and the performances and we chatted for a moment.  Her mother didn't say very much but she agreed with all the nice things her daughter was saying.  As they were about to move away, the mother took my hand gently in hers.  She pulled me a bit closer and I bent down to be able to hear her better.  I could see there were tears in her eyes.  She squeezed my hand and said softly, "You got it exactly right."

That one short phrase was the best thing anyone ever said to me about any performance in my long history.  It still chokes me up, but, oh, it gives me such joy.  That's what acting is all about.

Sooo, there's my first story about theater.  Would you be interested in hearing a few more??

*Just FYI, I consider both men and women "actors".  The word "actress" is useful only to clarify gender when necessary.



7 comments:

  1. Thespians are artists because we paint a picture from our souls for the world to see.

    Yes, please tell us more of your stories... this one was sweet.

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  2. That's a beautiful story and yes, I definitely want to hear more!

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  3. Awww, that is beautiful... and so fascinating. What a very interesting choice of careers. I would definitely love to hear more. I'm sure you have plenty of great stories!

    Also, I just happened to see in your profile that your a TX gal! I grew up in Copperas Cove, which pretty much no one has ever heard of. I have a special place in my ♥ for Texas. :)

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  4. Yes...I understand why it still touches you to this very day. On Golden Pond is a favorite movie of mine..and what a fantastic part to play. I am living that part right now. Just not with the man I was supposed to live through it with..but this is what I was meant to be doing to be doing. Helping another through those twilight years.
    How I would have loved to see that play LIVE. What a most precious comment for her to make to you. And it was from her heart and like me, it probably had great meaning to her. And now for you..
    A wonderful memory to cherish, to be sure!
    Hugs,
    Mona

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  5. I wish I could have seen your show! Yes, more stories would be great.

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  6. Oh what a wonderful part to get to play, and what a wonderful comment to receive from that lady! I wish I could have seen you in this part. laurie

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  7. What a WONDERFUL compliment.... That's one for you to treasure always!

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment. It's really nice knowing what you think!! Besides, comments keep me from feeling like I'm here all by myself!! :)

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