To some it is a little black box, to others it is a temple. It can be a 10×10 cave or hold 500. It is the theater, a space where in the span of two hours the spectrum of the human experience can be revealed to us. To me, it is a place of devotion.
I feel it welcome us the moment we step into the space, Asylum’s ‘Studio C,’on Santa Monica Blvd. It takes a few minutes of adjusting as the other group leaves and we get our things settled. Then it is quiet, the space is all ours, and I take a deep breath of the smell that is only a theater.
My director, midwife, guide, Cara Pifko, encourages me to explore the space thoroughly, not just the stage but the audience area as well. Feeling like some wild jungle animal, I begin my exploration, touching walls, floors, I test out the stairs, walk out into the seats. I feel with hands, feet, face, taking great big sniffs. I even dare to stick out my tongue and lick one of the walls because I need to absorb it all.
I feel the lights on my face like rays of sunshine, the coolness of the shadows ripple my skin. There is such profound gratitude to be there. Then I just stand still and let my heart expand. I let my heart expand until it melds with the energy of the space, until there is only what can be described as, communion.
The theater, a place where it is possible to feel, deeply and profoundly, what it is to be human. To be moved and shaken, and re-awakened. It is a place where we might find understanding, enlightenment, communion, connection.
I don’t go to church, but this space is my temple. This is where I will drop to my knees and bow my head in devotion. Where I will pray for the courage to tell my truth, however that is meant to come through. I will pray that I might serve the audience well, do my work as an artist. I trust that there is something I am meant to share, and this space will be the container for that revelation. And I ask for the support and love of all who have come before and the great guardians of this space, to hold me as I step onto the stage, heart and soul in hand.
The show has a title now: “Widows Anonymous.” I just finished a first draft. It is beginning to take form as we put it on its feet for the first time.
There is panic and fear of course, moments of doubt. And then I think of the writing that has been coming through, the five characters who have revealed themselves in my words. I call them my “Ladies,” and each of them has something unique to share. When I doubt what I’m writing or worry about what the audience might think, I lean into what my Ladies need to say, and trust their voices above all.
My mentor, Christina Dunbar, once shared the concept that each project has a soul of its own. I love that idea, it gives me courage. This project has a life of its own, it showed up at this time in my life with a purpose of its own. All I need to do is keep listening and following as the next step is revealed. Trusting in my Ladies. Trusting there is no ‘wrong,’ only the very truest, best I can do in the moment.
I can feel it, the sensation of stepping out onto that dark stage, expanding into the space and the audience who has entrusted me with their time. There is no other place I’d rather be, no other path I would rather follow. This is home.
I would love to see you there.