Month: November 2015

Dear Lisa

Dear Lisa,

Remember me? That fun, eager to please, book lending friend of yours? You were probably one of my very best friends despite our short time together. I loved that first time you invited me out.  I was shocked when my assistant covered the receiver with her hand, extending the phone to me.

“Jule, is Lisa.”

“Hello?”

“Hey! What are you doing Tuesday night?”

I immediately assumed you needed a favor: the baby picked up, the dog walked, the groceries shopped for, any one of the mundane tasks I reveled in accomplishing for you because I loved you.  And truthfully, because we acted like family. These were the things you did for family.

“Nothing. What’s up?”

“Wanna go out? I’m thinking dinner and drinks?”

WAAAAHHOOOOOO!!!!!!  She likes me! She really likes me!  I couldn’t believe it! Here we were: separated in age by a decade and at least half a dozen contrasting life decisions. I approached friendships with trepidation: my high school years were riddled with one mean girl after another, each knocking down a different part of my self esteem. My college years helped remind me of my good characteristics, and resulted in some of the best relationships of my life. My post-grad life brought me to you, your husband, and your daughter, a relationship that felt familiar and fantastic. It was as though I had finally met and connected with “my people.” On that afternoon we planned that you would pick me up on Wednesday, your hubby would stay with the baby, we’d do dinner, we’d hit the bars, and another fantastic summer night would be giggled about for years to come.

 

We did go out that night. And when you dropped me off at 3 AM, I broke down sobbing, having seen behind the Lisa curtain. Dinner started with you detailing the diamond earrings you demanded as a push present then progressed to you blatantly making fun of Johnathan- his dancing, his mother, his fashion, his work ethic.  By the time we left dinner and headed to drinks, you “confided” in me that you’d left Johnathan and Rebecca six months earlier and even filed for divorce. Your marriage was in trouble, but you resolved to stay married. The night ended horrifically for me, a spectator in all of the festivities: shots, pitchers, a wedding ring migrating to your right hand, creatively spun “single girl” tales for a group of young MBAs.  You disappeared. Taking off with a strange guy was one thing, asking me to lie to your husband about it quite another. I was devastated. I felt betrayed, embarrassed, sick, and utterly disgusted.

The next few weeks passed quickly. I was on the cusp of a fantastic career opportunity that relocated me. My first month away you called weekly, usually putting the baby on the phone.  Rebecca was just about two and hearing her say my name always made me smile. I sent care packages, you reciprocated. When I came home to visit at Thanksgiving, you three were my only socializing. At Christmas time, I looked forward to our “family dinner” and was shocked that you planned it for a night Johnathan was away. New Year’s Eve I spent alone. I should have known then.

By March, specifically my birthday, you were gone. I didn’t get so much as a phone call, let alone our usual cake/card/gift exchange. In April, my phone calls went unanswered. On May 12th I heard the rumor for the first time. Apparently I was sleeping with your husband.

In the ten years since that moment, I’ve thought of you and your family every single day.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. My heart aches when I think of the slander, the abandonment, the loss of the relationship. I never slept with your husband. I never betrayed you. I never lied to you. I loved you with everything I had and earned a broken heart and bruised reputation.  Four years ago, having learned that you STILL perpetuated this lie, I called you.  I emailed you. I emailed Johnathan. The stony silence comforted me. If you weren’t ready for the confrontation, perhaps it was because you knew your own guilt in fabricating such an ornate piece of fiction. Perhaps you would have had to confront your own infidelity, dare I say infidelities. I will never know.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Rebecca now has to attend two dinners, traveling from your home to your ex-husband’s. Your ex-husband is dating a lovely woman, from what Facebook reveals, and it’s nice that they are geographically compatible to you and your new hubby. I wonder if you cheat on him, too. It never occurred to me to get my books back. I’m finally to an emotional place where I miss them far more than I miss you.

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I challenge you to…

 

Come see a show this weekend.  I’m closing Noel Coward’s Private Lives at The Shawnee Playhouse.  After twenty-two performances, there are just three left. So often in my 32 years of performing (do you like how I start the count in kindergarten?), I hear, “We’d love to see you in a show!” I’m flattered and I hope that everyone gets the chance to come to a show.  Participating in the performing arts- whether on stage, back stage, or in the audience- is one of the single most important cultural contributions we can make.

With that, I offer up some common excuses about NOT attending a show and my rebuttals.

  1. I hate theatre.”

Oh, do you now? I have observed your drama; it’s very theatrical. I’m kidding. How do you know you HATE theatre? Have you been very often? What did you see? Substantiate your claim and I will never again ask you to attend.

  1. There’s a game on.”

DVR it.  Truly. There will always be something “on.”

  1. “It won’t be as good as Broadway.”

How will you know if you don’t see it?  It is a fallacy that only The Great White Way offers quality theatre. I’ve seen some really bad stuff in New York. I’ve seen some really spectacular stuff in community theatre in the middle of a cornfield in Topeka. I’ve seen everything in between all over the country. There is good theatre happening all over. You won’t know the good from the bad unless you see lots of it.

  1. It’s too expensive.”

How much is a ticket to Cinemark? Even the small screen movie house gets $10 for a seat. Did you know that not only can you see a terrific show for less than Cinemark, but many playhouses offer free tickets to volunteers. Usher, build a set, strike a set…stuff you know how to do is rewarded with free admission.  

  1. “I don’t like [so and so] and he/she is in it.”

This drives me wild. I have a friend who hates an area actress for personal reasons. Their friendship fell apart several years ago and they’ve been unable to cross the social chasm of their breakup. The difficulty lies in that my friend fancies herself a theatre person (as a supporter/audience/critic). She refuses to attend any show that this particular actress is involved in. The kicker is that this actress is one of the finest thespians in our area. She’s delightful on stage. My friend denies herself a truly wonderful experience for a dumb grudge. For me, she also voids her claim to be a “theatre person” by boycotting one single performer. Isn’t it supposed to be about the craft overall? So, my friend and friends, how much interaction are you really going to have? The actor is on stage. You are in the house. In most scenarios, you aren’t even visible to each other. Heaven forbid the show has a meet and greet, scoot out quickly.  Or, better yet, just act like grownups. Pass with civility and appreciate the art for the set, the script, the costumes, the acting, the singing. Leave your fight in the past and outside the theatre. Need I mention that everyone seems to hate Anne Hathaway but we all went to see Les Mis anyway?

  1. It’s boring.”

You don’t know this to be true of each and every show. I beg you to trust my judgement as it relates to Private Lives. You will laugh. You will shudder. You will think, “Huh. That’s sad.” You will see yourself and people you love in the moments playing out before your eyes. You will get a glimpse into fashion and social issues of 1930 and embrace how timeless they really are. You will NOT be bored.

  1. “I’m too busy.”

This is a tricky one. Busy is relative. When I’m glib my reply is, “If you’re busier than me you are likely the leader of the free world.” When I’m sarcastic my reply is, “How much time do you spend sending me Candy Crush invites on Facebook?” When I’m sincere my reply is, “This is important. This is nourishment to a part of your brain and your soul that isn’t met with any other activity.” I am confident that in six weeks of performances, two hours can be found.

  1. It’s not my thing.”

No, it isn’t. But you are my friend. Having kids wasn’t my thing, but I have celebrated and contributed to each of yours. Getting married isn’t my thing, but I willingly attend showers and weddings, celebrating your choices and even gifting. Sitting in a bar all afternoon isn’t my thing, but I meet you for drinks.  These aren’t scores being kept, I offer examples of how in life we do things that might represent a compromise, a key element to successful relationships. I won’t repeatedly ask you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. I’d love for you to share just one show with me.  

  1. “I’d rather stay home and binge-watch Netflix.”

I appreciate your honesty. It makes me sad, though. We’ve increasingly become so  isolated. Society overall would prefer to sit alone, eyes glued to their small screens, having an experience that isn’t shared with anyone. Later, perhaps, you’ll chat about the most recent series you’ve devoured, but from start to finish you’re alone. When was the last time you experienced something moving, something funny, something poignant with 50 other people? 100? 15? When was the last time the energy of a group of people shaped your enjoyment of it?

 

  1. Watching a movie or TV show is the same thing.”

Wrong. There are so many unique elements to stage work, but the crux of the genre boils down so easily for even the least seasoned audience member among us. Come see actors who have to get it right in one take. Watch their physicality that has to hit the mark every single time, not get chances to fix it in editing. Listen to their words, knowing they’ve memorized every bit of dialogue, no teleprompter in sight. Maybe you’ll marvel at the capacity of the human body to achieve these feats, perhaps you’ll witness a dropped line covered by another performer. What you will see is real.

 

 
Joe frequently reminds me, “Not everyone likes theatre, babe. You need to get over it. They’re not coming.” I won’t give up that easily.Come to the show.  You can score half price tickets if you ask me for the coupon code.