Well we open Much Ado About Nothing this week and I can honestly say that to portray you I have never worked so hard, been so challenged or felt so terrified in my life. The last couple of months have been exhilarating, upsetting and exhausting. I am passionate about learning, so in the end, because I have learned so much I am so grateful for this whole experience, but I have to admit when I woke up this morning with a big knot of fear in my stomach I thought, “Can you please just go away?!”
As I have studied you, I have learned much about myself and for that I will always be grateful. I have learned that I did not know how to scream. In your big emotional monologues, I have to scream – and I was at a loss as to how to do that. It’s not that I’ve never raised my voice, but I came to the somewhat surprising realization that I did not know how to scream. I can now – I practiced!
When comparing myself to you, I learned that I apologize for myself – all the time – often on a daily basis. I use self-depreciating humor, I preface what I have to say with a tone of voice or words that excuse what I’m about to say. I even move apologetically. I’ve come to realize that I’ve done it all my adult life, probably beginning back in ninth grade, when I purposely set out to take my rather large personality and make it fit more acceptably into the society around me. You would think an apologetic person would have self-esteem problems and I’m sure some of mine is related to moments when I am feeling less than confident, but most of it stems from hiding. Deep down I have always felt as if I have great power and ability (a great gift I thank my parents for,) but I have often felt that my confidence and joy made others uncomfortable. I have also felt that as I pursued things outside my home, that I was open to criticism from others who did not understand or appreciate my choices – so I have hidden the larger parts of me and apologized them away. This has been a rather shocking self-realization and I am still processing what it means and how understanding this changes me, but one thing is certain: it does change me.
The last thing I learned is that I am very cut off from my body. I have developed my intellect, my character, my talents, but not my body and my emotions. I have a highly developed ability to control and process my emotions in acceptable ways, but not to feel them fully. I have always felt a barrier in my performing and my writing and I think this is it. Until I can experience and process emotion more fully, how can I portray them on paper or on the stage? Next semester I am taking Movement for Actors, which I suspect may end up being one of the most important classes I take at school. I really look forward to exploring this more.
So Leonata… you terrify me. You’ve made me look at myself in new and surprising and sometimes painful ways. You live life raw and real and I don’t always know how to deal with that, but you inspire me to push towards more authenticity in my life. I will not be the same for knowing you. My dearest wish this week is that I can breathe you in and give you life with all the passion and pain that is you – and when all is said and done that I take a piece of you home with me to stay.
Thank you for the journey,
Wendy opens as Leonata in Much Ado About Nothing at UVU on Dec. 3, 2009. Call 801 863-PLAY for tickets.