I went to a rehearsal last night for a drama I’m in at the Equip women conference this weekend (people refer to these things as a ‘drama’ but that gives it more weight than I feel it has…it’s just a skit to me, a performed blip to get you thinking). There are four of us in the drama, all showing women in various stages of waiting, or talking about what they are waiting for.
Rehearsal was after a long day at work, in a place I’d never been before in the western suburbs. I had never met the other actors, and we only got the script last weekend because of various problems with volunteers having to pull out (one of whom was the writer/director, so the whole thing had to be rewritten by one of the actors). Actually I was a ring-in because an actor had pulled out, and we even had another actor pull out this week, so the girl replacing her was even newer than me. So the whole thing has only come together by the grace of God, really!
I was already feeling low because of tiredness and being in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people. Then I realised that they are all active actors/drama people. And that really threw me for a loop. One is a working actor, one is a drama teacher and one has just graduated from drama school. And then there’s me, who hasn’t properly acted for at least 10 years.
I don’t know why this slammed me so much. I sat there, watching the girls do their monologues and thinking “they’ve actually put effort into this, they actually know what they’re doing…they’re going to regret asking me to do this…”, and dreaded my turn to perform. It was like being at a cold audition, suddenly jumping up in front of strangers and doing a monologue at them. I apologised my way through the rehearsal, and rushed my lines, and was touchy when given direction…I could see myself behaving this way, saw that it really wasn’t helping anything and couldn’t understand it. I told myself to calm down, and tried to be gracious and thank the scriptwriter and take on suggestions and slow down.
It came together well, and everyone was positive and reassuring. But all the way home I just felt stupid and sad and fraudulent. And the little positive voice, although barely audible amongst the waves of negativity, kept saying “you’re fine! Don’t worry! It’s just a little skit, and your bit’s only two minutes long! It’s okay! God will use you!”
So I tried to reflect on why I had felt so bad. Two main things, aside from the tiredness.
1. My part is that of a pregnant woman, who can’t wait for her baby to arrive because “you have no idea how long I’ve waited for this”. I was bemused that I was cast in this role when the script went around, and was basically told, well, we’re all single, childless women, so someone has to do it, you’ll be fine.
I realised last night I didn’t really want to get into the mindset I needed to do a convincing job (ie, not just a cariacature); that it felt like if I didn’t try to do it well I could end up being insulting to the countless women who will be at Equip and will be feeling sad and anxious about issues of childlessness; and that even though mostly I am okay about not being a mum, thinking too much about waiting for a child makes me feel bone-wearyingly sad.
2. I have changed so much since theatre was my life; there are people I know now who never even knew that ‘other’ me. Now, I don’t mind the changes that have taken me away from wanting a life in the theatre, and I love how God has shaped me and grown me since my uni years.
But the thing that upset me was the change in my demeanour, in my outlook since being struck with depression. I feel like the black dog has eaten parts of me, or like the depression is an acid that has burned giant holes in my fabric…if I’d had the energy last night I would have tried to draw it, because it’s hard to explain.
I used to be so excited about performing, about the medium of theatre. I could see exactly what to do to communicate a thought or emotion, and how to do it (though I’ve always been a better director than actor). I had energy. I had projection. I had passion. I loved being part of an ensemble and making plays. And now, even though depression-wise I’m nowhere near as bad as I’ve been in the past, it’s like that me has dissolved. It’s like I’m missing parts of my personality. I almost resented the other girls for being in touch with that, when I couldn’t access it anymore.
It’s hard to explain. But I think maybe the sad feeling was grieving those things. They aren’t huge, insurmountable issues to deal with. But they definitely tripped me up.
Hearing talks on heaven at Equip this weekend will be good for me!