In the wee small hours of the morning….While the whole wide world is fast asleep…..
Frank Sinatra’s soft, smooth voice wraps around me and warms me from the outside as the toasted walnut tea hugs my insides. My daughter gave me this CD on a September afternoon six years ago, just after I’d been pushed off the end of my world and was desperately looking for something to hold onto. Something to keep me breathing. I would light my forest of candles and listen to Frank over and over and over again.
“Once upon a time, not so long ago and not so far away, there lived a King and Queen in a huge beautiful palace.” So begins the second half of Slumming, the play I’ve just finished as part of the Vancouver Fringe Festival. I tip toe into this 30 minute almost monologue as my character, Grace, eases away from Britney, the young street worker who has just been raped. Britney has asked for a ‘made up story’ and Grace is looking for anything with which to give comfort. The play has suddenly taken a turn into darker territory.
I begin the play as an obviously unstable street person, yet one who is just as obviously not used to living on the streets. Throughout the almost monologue I slowly lose the tics and characteristics of Grace “the street person” and grow to become the Queen within the fairy tale. The words I speak hold great power.
The fairy tale is a story of great betrayal and an even greater, darker revenge. The very last words of the story strike like MacBeth’s dagger and kills any remaining comedy. The coda of the play leaves many in tears. There is such power when Truth is carried with strong intention and conviction.
Several days pass and I receive an email from the writer and director of the play. She writes, in part, “Writing the fairy tale in Slumming — and then watching you render it so wonderfully — has been cathartic for me. I no longer feel anger towards_____; in fact, I feel nothing. I feel free. I keep waking up saying “Free at last! Free at last!””
I am so gratified and so grateful to have been given the honour and opportunity to play a part in her healing. It has also been an important step in my own healing and journey towards forgiveness. I’ve been working especially hard this past year to come to a place of complete compassion and forgiveness. To remove the thin sticky threads which keep me from giving and receiving open-hearted love.
The brilliant and mystical Larry Moss says, “The imagination is bigger than anything you can remember from your own life.” I manifest the truth of this when I play the character of Grace on stage; when I stand over the sleeping King in the fairy tale and raising MacBeth’s dagger on high, “stab the cheatin’ bastard in the heart!”
Throughout the run of the play I greet many friends and relatives at the end of the performance that give me hugs of congratulations and words of “well done.” Some are wiping tears from their eyes and some chuckle knowingly, “I guess you didn’t have to go too far to find the emotion and motivation for that, did you.” They’re talking about my own story of betrayal.
And here’s where I’ve stepped into a magical discovery. As I weave the story of the fairy tale, casting a spell of make-belief, I come to realize that my own painful curse has been broken. As I speak the Queen’s words of her wounding betrayal I am no longer able to use the power of my own story to drive the performance. I try and try to envision my used-to-be husband and my own Other Woman, but they keep disappearing into the vapour of the spell, and the engine of the performance threatens to choke and sputter.
Instead, I call upon the incredible power of my imagination and use that to fuel my words. Instead of the face of my own betrayer, I see the man who betrayed the playwright. It is he who appears amidst the smoke of the spell I am casting. And just like that, I discover that I’ve forgiven those that have wounded me.
I have healed my own wound of betrayal so well that now, as an actor, I must use my imagination instead of the tool of substitution. What remains behind are great gifts; the intricate, delicate and subtle shades and tones of my emotional pallet that I can now use to colour my performances. This is where my own Truth comes out to play, and instead of wounding it comes out to help in the healing of others. What is in the One, is in the Whole.
And so, as I sit behind the wings and listen to the gathering audience laugh and talk before the lights darken, I close my eyes and go within. I ask that my heart remain open and vulnerable and that I paint the words of the play with the blood of my own healed wounds. I ask to be used as an agent of healing and to honour the words of the playwright. May I dwell in the breath of the Truth. May my healed wound touch one within you and so begin your own healing.