Some of the roles I’ve played onstage are waitresses, a Welsh woman, pregnant hired help, Italian brothel lady, lost “can’t have baby” southern “old maid”, unfaithful preacher’s wife, uptight British wife, drunken British wife, free, flirty British wife, a French widow, a French suicidal punk, a mother trapped between her daughter & her mother, a mentally challenged comedic princess, a serious author, a new kid on the block, a bisexual Goth, a Jacobean lover, Booboo the clown, Madame Rouge the bouffon, Matriarch of a large family, a whip wielding trainer, an incestuous mother…
Some of the roles I’ve had offstage are waitresses, daughter, lover of many types, supportive partner, mistress, heart breaker, horse lover, mentor, guide, surrogate aunt, friend, drunken friend, actress, ESL teacher, drama teacher, businessperson, costume designer, costume set supervisor, driver, cook, milliner, scarf maker, poet, writer, student, groupie, photographer, painter, clown, bouffon, driver, listener, patient, woman, surrogate sister, partyer, dancer, traveler…
On stage, my role is clear, defined, if I have done my homework. I feel good, focussed- present. I figure out my objectives for each scene, for each line, and for the whole play. I listen, respond, and remain open to possibilities. I look after myself, warm up my voice and my body, and give trust to the team of people around me. In the wings, I breathe deeply, listen to my music, and prepare to plunge forward leaving the critical voice behind. Out there, I feel the presence of my whole being, and the audience. I feel alive, strangely truthful, and, myself as I consciously play my role. Of course, there are those times when I just feel “off” and the flow isn’t there. You re-group, try not to beat yourself up, and you try again in the next performance.
What about all the roles we play in life? What about the different masks we wear for each of these roles, and our own judgement of how well we play each role? Which of the roles is most truthfully “me”, and which ones take more effort than the others? Where do you feel YOU?
The topic of “role” comes up frequently during a therapeutic sales course I take (oxymoron, I know, but true). The instructor always asks us from 1-10 where do we see ourselves? I know the answer is supposed to always be 10, but our judgment of ourselves on any given role, on a given day tends to alter the number. I may have given myself a 10 as a businessperson one day, but a 3 as a lover or friend the same day. The trick is to know you are a 10 no matter what. I’m still working on that.
Is our truth, our personal truth only true when we are alone? Or does it exist only in our art – our creative ventures? Maybe my answer for successful role-playing in life is in my theatre rituals.
Again, this isn’t a new topic, but maybe just another version. What are your roles? How do you view yourself within these roles? After all, isn’t “all the world a stage”?
Have a listen to Verve’s song where the lyrics include the line “.. I’m a million different people from one day to the next..I can’t change my mold, oh no…” Plus, it’s just a great tune!