Tuesday, August 3, 2010

There's the humour of it. ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor

I’m embarking on a journey to discover a character. For the first time in over two years, I am taking on an acting role. The process of discovering what makes this person tick fascinates me—sometimes more so than the performances. And I use the term “person” because the character becomes very real to the actor—your new BFF sometimes. They kinda have to; you need to take ownership of them and their actions in order to play it with any truth. Actors use the pronoun “I “when discussing a scene: “What do I want from so-and-so in this moment?” “Am I supposed to give him the such-and-such now or later?”

I’ll be playing Nat, the mother of the female lead in David Lindsay Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. The play deals with a 30-something couple whose 5 year old son was killed when he darted out into the street while chasing his dog. The action takes place 9 months after Danny’s death and it deals with the roller coaster/ 1 step forward-2 steps back that is grief.

BUT—there is a great deal of humor in this piece. My character has some of the funniest lines, but I’ll also get to do a wonderful scene where I talk my daughter about living with the loss of her brother. It is such a perfect explanation of how you come to terms with the death of a loved one—especially under tragic circumstances. How the pain of it never goes away, but becomes something you carry around with you. Just a special piece of life baggage, I guess.

I am curious/concerned how my own life experience with tragic loss will impact how I play this role. Is it too close? Too soon? Only time will tell me that.

One thing I do know—without my sense of humor, life would totally suck. It has been our skewed take on things and our ability to see the absurdity that has gotten my family and me through so much ca-ca. And I’ve long since stopped worrying about other people’s reactions to my finding the humor in personal tragedies or difficult situations. In fact, I tend to think there’s something wrong with them if they can’t laugh at life’s challenges.

I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to plays that have that wonderful juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy. Most of the recent plays I’ve directed all have that in common—they’re “dramedies.” They’re so real to me—many times I have found myself laughing one minute and crying the next.

To me, that’s life.


  1. Good luck to you. I say have fun and the performance will blossom.

  2. The play sounds fabulous and I am sure you will do an excellent job! How appropriate that you are playing Nat!
    And it is so good to be able to laugh and the hard times! It keeps one moving forward. You have a great attitude!! Keep laughing Ellen and enjoy the process of learning your character.