Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wrestling with the fog

There is a lovely fog outside my window this morning, thickening even as I write. The house finches are silent now, and the shrill cry of the gulls echoing down my chimney reminds me again of how much I love living on an island.

The fog without echoes a bit of fog within: I am now officially in what is called "hell week" (the last week before a play opens) and I am doing some serious wrestling with my role; things are not at all clear.

I play Hippolyta, the amazon queen who is to marry her Greek conqueror, Theseus, but I am playing her as a high school gym teacher in the 50's. There is a tension emerging between the warrior she should be and the beloved she longs to be -- a tension which is at the heart of her role -- but at the moment my acting of it seems as foggy as the view from my window.

It's not an unfamiliar tension; I've struggled with it before in plays, at work, and even at home, where my children are currently waging a campaign to get me to stop using the word "sorry." But this morning I was reading in Kabat-Zinn's book about the mythic quality of fairy tales, and one phrase particularly struck me:

"Fairy tales are ancient guidance, containing a wisdom, distilled through millennia of telling, for our instinctual survival, growth, and integration in the face of inner and outer demons and dragons, dark woods and wastelands. These stories remind us that it is worth seeking the altar where our own fragmented and isolated being-strands can find each other and marry, bringing new levels of harmony and understanding to our lives."

I think it is this search for integration that drives all the characters and stories in the play, most of which takes place in a dark wood and involves finding both our true mates and our selves. It's all pretty foggy and confusing, and my character is repeatedly drawn to the boundaries between truth and fantasy, finding her beloved Duke's relentless practicality irritatingly short-sighted.

By the end, of course, all the lovers will be united, just as my confused sliding up and down the scale of distance and approachability will settle down by opening night. In the meantime I just need to enjoy the fog, remember that I love it, and know that it is all part of the process.


Anonymous said...

So wait, Ali's also been trying to make you stop saying sorry?

Diane Walker said...