A View from the Stage
By Mary Reed
November 19, 2016: I woke up this morning and for the first time in many weekends I don’t have to be at the playhouse and it’s kinda sad. Most of you were spared the de-mantling process which can be both a painful and cathartic experience and I’m kinda glad you were spared seeing our beautiful creation taken apart. Alas that is the nature of theatre. I often tell people that theatre is like a sandcastle, unique and surprising but not meant to last anywhere but in its influence on the soul. Egads! She’s going to talk philosophy…
I rarely say, in fact I never say, all I want to say at the Charmin’ Awards ceremony so let me try here. I didn’t want to play Edith originally because she was in my mind “the fat joke” and I have had issues with weight my whole life and I didn’t want to feel all those fat issues surface every night as characters told me to diet and saying things like I’ll look like an elephant. But Ralph convinced me that casting me as Edith had everything to do with my confidence and ability to be a strong funny character and nothing to do with my weight. After a tear-filled conversation or two I said “what the heck! And let nature take its course.” Boy was I glad I did! What a strong funny character Edith Potter is (except for that smoking over the baby bit of course.) And what a fun character to play! Making people laugh is what life’s all about. Many of you know my mother was famous for saying, “If you lose your sense of humor you might as well quit,” so when I saw Edith had a line “My dear, who could stand the life we lead without a sense of humor,” I figured it was meant to be and I fell in love with Edith. Fat jokes and all.
Sometimes in life a blind leap of faith is required and sometimes that leap brings blessings you could never have imagined. Our production of The Women was such a blessing. At first it was a very personal challenge to find a way to not let the fat stuff get to me and surprisingly Edith Potter showed me the way. When her snippy friend said “you should diet,” Edith just blows it off with a kind of “Nah. Later.” Something I wished I had been able to do in my own life. And she never let any of her girlfriends get to her. About anything. This is certainly something a younger Mary Wilbur or Mary Reed would never have embraced. Edith has taught me much about self-worth and feeling good in your own skin. Take note younger cast-mates! Listen to Edith!
But without question the biggest blessing of all was working with all of you. It’s hard to put into words just what a blessing that is. I grew up with 3 older brothers, no sisters and I always felt more comfortable with and had more friends that were boys (not boyfriends) than friends that were girls but I always wanted a sister and was envious of women with close relationships to other women. At first I think we all thought the words of Claire Booth Luce were dated and irrelevant but they endured time in a strangely unique way and somehow her often sexist concepts transcended sexism and time and instead threaded an intimate study of the relationship of women that stands true today. No, these were not the women we want to be but there’s an underlying truth there that reminds us that we can be each other’s strength or each other’s downfall but we are always at the heart of it, an indelible sisterhood.
I felt that strength with each of you. We gladly supported each other every time we got together. We cried with women who were having a rough day, we rejoiced when something great happened, we talked about deep matters and tread lightly during emotional election days while never losing respect for one another. We learned across generations and yes, scared a few of our younger women with our tales of childbirth! We gladly zipped and combed and safety-pinned. We gladly made each other beautiful and encouraged one another by going over lines while the more talented among us applied makeup and hair design. We shared jewelry and purses and shoes and loved doing it. Somehow this was an ancient dance but also a new one and I was honored to be a part of it with each one of you.
In closing (I do go on), I especially enjoyed working with our first time Pelicans and want to let them know “Once a Pelican, always a Pelican.”
This particular sandcastle has been washed over by life’s tides but it will endure in my soul forever. Thank you for being my sisters!
P.S. Sam – you know you have a special place in my heart that goes beyond sisterhood. You were an amazing Stage Manager now get back on that stage!