In college, I was into modern dance, which was my introduction to the green room, to theatre, and to the adrenaline rush of performing. I loved the jack-hammering of my heart as I stood in the dark wings. I loved the blinding lights and the one or two dancers whose epic fits would make the rest of us feel so poised. Confession: I loved the attention. As a young person, I was an attention junky, and I wasn’t picky about the sort I got. Bad. Good. Legal. Illegal. Here I am, notice me. was the mantra of my life. But with dancing, I was part of a team or a duo. Even if I was dancing a solo, I was a cog in a machine, and we were making something lovely.
Ever after, when I would watch a play, I’d be crazy-jealous of the cast members. They seemed to be having so much fun. But I sing as well as a cat in heat, and I’ve never acted before. As much as I missed the stage, as an adult it wasn’t happening for me.
The one attribute I bring to the theatrical table is my willingness to look stupid, especially at church. If we can’t mess up there, where can we? (That may be an upside-down perspective for those who think church is for the perfectly put together.) Enter, Heaven’s Gates & Hell’s Flames, a mind-blowing spiritual drama that explores what happens the second after we die. Seneca said, “The day which we fear is our last is but the birthday of eternity.” Audiences come to be entertained, but they come away with much to think about. Isn’t that the point of art—to shine a spotlight and shatter dogmas?
So I told the insecure miscreant who lives inside my head and comes out whenever there’s a hard and/or uncomfortable thing to do…I told her to shut up, and I went and read the script. I got a little part, and I—with God’s help—performed. I got to be a cog again. This time, making something lasting. And I hope, lovely. A performance to make people stop and think about what they believe.