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Wrote this a year ago while playing Beatrice in "Much Ado About Nothing". Still feels very true.

Being in love in a play is very confusing.

I bring a bundle of nerves and experiences and associations with me onto that stage every night. I bring my beating heart and my skin and my voice. I bring the moment as it exists in me and I in it—I was very conscious of it tonight, poured into my tights and wrapped into my blue dress with the snaps (not zipper) at the back, my hair piled on top of my head and pearl earrings hanging from my ears—

And my costar does the same thing. And I know certain things about him. I know he is tired. I know he feels like his hair is too long. I know he spent the night on our friend’s couch because Lakewood is a lot closer than Seattle and you can really substitute any of these details for any of the men I’ve played opposite because none of them really matters. What matters is that when we get up there, in front of God and our cast and the interchangeable audiences, we are reaching for something—something from our guts, from the past, from our imaginations—something that will ultimately let us reach at each other and create that thing that our cast and the interchangeable audiences (and maybe God: I thought so at one point in my life, anyway) are there to see. It is like love and it is like drugs and it is a lot like lying but some of it is real.

And that’s where it gets confusing.

Every play I do: no matter if my costar has bad skin, or bad breath, or is a bad actor, or is gay, or is a woman—part of me always, always, falls desperately in love with them. And it is confusing because the THEM I fall in love with is always a mix of me and them and everything else that has nothing to do with me or them. In this show it was a mix of my ex boyfriend and my dog dying and my costar’s dead wife and the personal meaning of the production in my life and the smell of Tacoma and the seam in the stage that I ran my fingers against each time, that little ridge nudging against my fingertips.

And I wonder what it’s like for him. Is it the way our voices meet in space and mix their little vibrations of sound? Is it the bewitching smell of the Aqua Net in my hair as he leans over to whisper in my ear backstage? Is it the way I taste when he kisses me? Or is it none of those things—is it his dead wife? Is it his new girlfriend in the audience? Is it the fact that Lakewood is a lot closer than Seattle? Part of the way I feel about him in that moment will always be a mystery, because it is composed of the way he feels about me: and I will never know what that is. What parts of me and his life and the moment make it up. What it means to him.
But it doesn’t stop there.

My love is voracious. It is deep and it is wide and it has spread itself all over this show. It is in the way I know, with my body, that the audience is with me, and I can feel their energy as intimately as I can sometimes feel my own heartbeat.

That’s why it’s so hard to leave. It’s walking away from a world where my only job is to feel good. To love these people and to laugh with them and to draw on everything I’ve got and everything they’ve got and things we don’t even understand we have to make something together. It can be easy to get caught up in thinking that exercise means something. I guess what it comes down to is: it means something if you make it mean something. It is not inherently meaningful. And that idea breaks something in me. It liberates something in me too. Like a phoenix from the ashes of my dreamt-up future that I watched burn to the ground, I am resurrected with each second.


Ray Manukay said...


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