Tonight I will appear in the first of three performances (get tickets to tonight’s performance, the Saturday matinee, or the Saturday night performance) of Catching Icarus, a play one of my former students wrote. It’s a two-act play that takes place in a Waffle House in Dillon, South Carolina. It’s a cast of four characters. I play “Brett,” the father of a young man who is struggling with addiction and loss.
It’s quite gripping. It’s also been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.
I have a newfound respect for actors. I’ve tended to take the approach that, while acting requires some real talent and commitment, it’s basically playing make-believe.
When you have to memorize sixty-pages of naturalistic dialogue—and draw on emotional reserves to engage in a verbal altercation with a heroin addict—it taxes you. I’ve engaged every drop of mental and emotional energy I can spare.
I’ve found with plays that everything tends to come together in the end, but the process is often painful and grueling. The process has, indeed, been incredibly virtue-building. I have worried about this production nearly constantly the past couple of weeks, but it’s made me more confident and oddly calmer in other aspects of my life.
Indeed, we completed two excellent runs during dress rehearsal last night. My confidence about my role in this production is substantially higher than it was even two nights ago. I still have some items to iron out, but I’m ready.
I’m excited—and nervous—for opening night, and for the weekend performances. I will also be incredibly thankful to be done with the final show. I’m bracing myself for a glorious mental bowel movement Saturday night. Then it’s time to celebrate with my girlfriend and Beethoven Sunday afternoon.
The play has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and challenge—and I will never do it again.*
*Well, probably not.