||B. Michael Rains|
I've come to the conclusion that one of the reasons why I do theatre is
because I can't afford to go to therapy. I must stress that this is only one
of the reasons; there are many clichéd other reasons: the high of being on
stage, the ability to fall into a vacuum of one reality while you are
witnessed in another reality by others, that moment right before and right
after you make an audience react, etc., etc. But while doing Bash, I became
completely aware of why theatre is a necessity in my life. It allows me to
exercise demons and emotions that would otherwise remain contained inside
my head and slowly curdle my soul.
While in the midst of rehearsing and performing Bash, I was going through
one of the lowest points of my life. My 14-year-old baby brother was
experiencing negative side affects from a bone marrow transplant that he had
received 5 months prior to Bash's opening. Those 5 months I was not attached
to the actual world.
Nothing held any weight besides the daily updates from
him, his mother, his doctors, nurses. The news of gained body weight or
positive blood counts would lift me for a day or two, but then would come
crashing down when he would have a seizure or get yet another fever.
Jud called me during this 5-month period and said that he wanted me for
Medea Redux- a 45 minute monologue about a young mother who murders her
14-year-old son and finds a sickening redemption and healing in the act.
Dark. Sad. Emotional. A lot of chain-smoking. Jesus, the sheer rawness of
her words evoked my exact feelings of dealing with my own reality.
Right off the bat, I told Jud that this was going to be hard, not just the
actual delving into the performance, but because I was in a state of limbo.
All it would take was a phone call and I'd have to be by my brother's side.
All it would take was some phrase in the text that would act as a catalyst
for my ticking emotional time bomb, and I'd be a complete wreck for the rest
of the rehearsal. Jud understood, but was willing to take that risk.
I am so glad he did. November rolled around and rehearsals began. After a
day of sitting at my job, staring at my computer, wondering what my brother
was feeling and thinking every other moment, coming to rehearsals was a time
for me to get tethered to a present moment. Focusing on the text, the
feelings of this character, the tug of war that a heart goes through when
battling between what is right and what is justified...... and having Jud
there the entire time, lending incredible knowledge, giving support when it
was most needed and his ability to communicate so much in a simple phrase
such as 'I like crackers.,' it was such an awesome experience. It grounded
When the show finally opened I found myself able to just be there. Not
onstage. Not in a costume. Just there, with the character, her story, her
feelings, her endless pack of smokes. Some days it was difficult to access
that part of her that had imbedded herself in my mind... and other days it
felt like I was exercising my own demons and frustrations and sadness
through the text and puffs. It was so fucking healing.
Then, the last week of the show I got the phone call I had dreaded. My
brother needed me. It was time for me to be by his side and with my family.
I called Jud , packed my bags, and left Bash behind. The next three days
were so incredible I won't even attempt to explain them. Bottom line: my
brother died and I was there, with him. It was powerful. It was wonderful.
It was so very very sad.
And there were still some threads that needed to be knotted before I could
begin the next stage of grief. Going to his viewing, being a part of the
funeral, of course. But I also had this need to finish the run of Bash. I
returned to Austin the last day of the show and asked Jud if I could do the
final performance. Jud was more than willing, but wanted to make sure that
this was definitely something that I truly wanted to do; not something I
felt obligated to. I explained that the Bash production had been an entire
part of my dealing with my brother's death and, in order to feel good about
the acting experience that had given me so much I needed to close the show.
Closure is the psychological term I believe is used to explain such a
feeling. I needed closure.
As the last line was delivered, the final exhalation of a Camel Turkish
Gold flittered through the beam of light that faded to black and it was
over. It was all over.
And I cried. Cleansing, bittersweet tears because I didn't feel the same
anger, frustration, and saddens of the character or of my own reality.
Instead, I felt good. A strange, euphoric feeling that I had not felt for