Monday, June 25, 2012

Discernment of Heart

In three months, I've been cast in the same play twice.  With those stats, I figure I'm supposed to be in this play.  Granted, this second time around, I have a teensy part, but nevertheless … this play will take me somewhere I need to go.

The play is Marvin's Room by Scott McPherson.  For those unfamiliar with it, it's about a woman who is diagnosed with leukemia and has to reconnect with estranged family members in the hope of finding a bone marrow donor match.  For those unfamiliar with my life, my mother was diagnosed with leukemia, and in her last months, a variety of estranged family members passed through our doors.  Death causes people to connect in ways that life won't.

For this production, I'm playing the psychiatrist of Hank, a teenage boy caught in a psychological maelstrom with his mother.  She's looking for love the only way she knows how -- through hard drinking parolees who drive Pintos.  Hank is old enough to know that crying won't garner his mother's attention.  Unfortunately for him, though, burning down houses only brings the wrong kind.

So many of us are imperfect lovers.  By getting caught up in the details, we lose sight of loving.  True, the theoretical construct of unconditional love and the actual demonstration of it are light years apart.  Consequently, a pithy directive about "letting go of details" never helped two people love each other better.  But maybe if we could always remember that on a higher plane we do love each other -- despite the snarky accusations, the impenetrable differences of opinion, the perceived and real betrayals … maybe if we could mutter to ourselves, "No matter what this looks like, I do love them …."  Well, maybe that could loosen the air a bit.

My little scene ends with my character saying to Hank, "Good session."  It's an absurd scene.  It's a scene filled with defense mechanisms and denial.  Mother and son trade barbs, and at one point she resorts to psychobabble.  The playwright chose well here because as a result, the scene is true to life.  If we're to look for victories, we need the discernment to perceive them in their true forms, not as our imaginary scripted dialogue would have them be.  For the first time, I play the person championing an albeit small, yet True Victory.  Now if I could just let that skill bleed into real life.