Innocently uttering just four little words, "Okay, I'll do it," a short while ago, I set in motion a path for myself that has drawn me into deep reflection. Performing on stage, film, and clubs, for the better part of my life, this new role was accepted without worry but little background with its significance.
My agreement in reply to a friend's request to play the Mother in a production she was involved in and which she buffered with, "You know, just a few lines here and there --but it's a good play and you'll be helping the kids out . . ." How could I refuse?
What I had agreed to was participation in The Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project, the adaptation by actor and director Tim Robbins of Sr. Helen Prejean's award-winning book, "Dead Man Walking." In addition to the award-winning film, Mr. Robbins has created a powerful drama but -- contrary to most playwrights -- only allows productions through college and high-school theater partnership programs that include community outreach with workshops meant to explore how people feel about the death penalty through examination of their own belief systems. For what one community has done with the project in New Orleans, go here.
Well, the "little bit" I'm doing has grown into three small parts -- Mother of Sr. Prejean, a reporter, and a support group attendee -- along with scene-balancing "landscape" tableaux with the other actors also playing multiple roles. Not impossible; been done, before -- BUT, we are never allowed to leave the stage! It seems that our Director for the February 1-10 Cardinal Gibbons High School production loves this form of theatre and we get to do it, in spades!
Woe is me! I've discovered that age is definitly creeping up. Not as limber as I've been, my feet are screaming by the end of rehearsals. Of course, that's probably because rehearsals seem to take forever. The actual show is over before you know it!
Once you have performed in a Justice Theater Project, you are a member for life! So, I'll be leading a couple of workshops, once the play run is over as part of my outreach service. This is not proselytizing -- no pressure for anyone to change their beliefs, simply a forum to examine them and know why they feel as they do about the death penalty. (This is definitely when I wish I were 18, again. I knew everything, then! and decisions were so much easier.)
We open Thursday, which is just about when I'll have everything memorized!