It’s funny how art can mirror life.
I ended up in a MN Fringe Festival play this year. It’s called De-Taming the Shrew. I haven’t been in a play for seven years – for the last one, I got the choice role of Jane in Fallen Angels, a Noel Coward comedy of manners. I was the only one who auditioned for my role.
This time, an acquaintance had posted “Looking for a 40 year old woman to help with a play” –(not an exact quote) – – I showed up, and I was in. Little did I know that I was randomly volunteering for a show that I would relate to so well.
The stories intertwining through this one hour piece are of spiritual beings, middle aged women, and young women just starting out. The cast is all women, although we have some male characters. For a couple minutes, I get to play a 20 something douchey guy who takes his wife for granted soon after saying I Do. I also get to be a middle aged woman struggling with having had a bankruptcy (11 years ago, in my case) and foreclosure (next month, if the short sale falls through – cross your fingers). I also get to be a spiritual being who sings about how there’s hope, and that you must stand up for your rights and show the world your light.
I am in awe of the other women on stage – not just the characters, but the actors. One part of the play, an original song by Kimberly Michaels, made me cry during dress rehearsal last night. Julie Rappaport, our writer/producer/actor, seems to be a force of nature. All of the women involved are strong, intelligent and dedicated. This play is alive with vignettes and interconnected characters and scenes, and there are lots of costume changes and movement. We wouldn’t be able to do it if every single person wasn’t pulling her weight.
Now, it’s not that there aren’t any men involved in the production – our wonderful, insightful director, Todd Bruse, is there ushering us through this process, as well as our stage manager, the young, bright Maxwell Mars. (He wants to be a theater arts teacher. I definitely see this happening.) Just as I have tried to articulate pretty much since declaring that my minor in college was Women’s Studies, it’s nothing against men and working with men, but there is something powerful and necessary about women working together and seeing what they can do.
I think the most powerful message that I have received from Julie and the play is that I have something to contribute. This is definitely true on stage – I play several different characters and I feel my personal self-confidence rising as they develop. But I also feel it in my own life. Through our fundraisers, I have met another woman who is a novelist, a couple of women artists, and a woman who runs her own production company. It seems like everywhere I turn there are strong, intelligent women doin’ their thing. And that makes me want to do my thing, which right now is acting, but shortly my thing(s) will be running my Kickstarter campaign to publish my novel and going back to work as a high school English teacher.
Just like our main character, Grace, I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me, but I’m going to do my best to experience life fully. To do that, I will continue to draw strength from the other women in my life, hopefully strengthening them as well. And that brings me back to art mirroring life, because that’s the show in a nutshell. Women helping each other to find their own inner strength, and encouraging each other to use our strengths.
I’m thankful to be in this play, so grateful, I’m ready for it, and I’m loving it.