Random Ramblings

Asking for a Miracle by the Pool

Posted on: September 7, 2009

“The test results came back this week, and though I’m sure they were no surprise to you, they sure knocked the wind outta my sails. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The pain and weakness in my ankles is just the beginning. It is going to slowly work its way up my body, paralyzing me as it goes, until finally it reaches my lungs and I’ll die.  There is no cure.”

These words above have nothing to do with me other than the fact that I had to say them this weekend, however they are not true.  I do not have ALS; I am not in any way shape or form sick with anything like it.  I was helping my friends, Wendi and John with a Liturgical Dramas at their church.  I played a character named Annie in a monologue called POOLSIDE.  From time to time their church will present a short, and by short I mean usually no longer than 5-7 minutes long, performance during the service that delivers a message to all who attend the service. I’ve been involved on a few of them and they are all different. Once there was one about three people getting a Q & A session with St. Peter, another involved a businessman who had trouble keeping his phone calls straight between a business partner and his pastor, and one on Good Friday highlighting what Jesus went through for his children.  Sometimes they are funny, most of the time they are full of valuable lessons and sometimes they are just an extremely powerful message that makes you think.

This one was no exception. I had to play a woman who had been diagnosed with ALS, and was asking Jesus for a miracle to make her well again. She also wondered if she would deserve such a miracle as miracles are far and few between.  She had heard her Pastor tell the story of Jesus at the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem where he healed a lame man that couldn’t get to the healing waters himself.  She wrestled with why Jesus chose that man instead of the many who sat by the pool with broken limbs waiting for an Angel to stir the water so they could be the first to step in and be healed.  Didn’t they all deserve to be healed?  Why only pick that one man?  She also wondered if she was deserving of such a miracle herself.  Playing this character was not an easy task for me by any means.  I do not have ALS or any other life threatening disease; therefore I do not know what it would be like to receive that kind of news or have to ask for a miracle of this magnitude.  All I could do was to imagine how I would feel if I were to receive news like that.  That in itself is not easy to do because you would always like to think that you’d a lot better to things like that than you actually do, you can never really know how it would feel or how you would react until it actually happens to you.

I tried and tried to figure out how I would feel, getting this piece of traumatic news.  Between what I was coming up with and some helpful thoughts from Wendi in her directing of the scene, I was able to come up with things to think about if it was me.  How would I tell my husband?  How would I tell the rest of my family or my friends?  I couldn’t find the answers to those questions, but I believe it at least invoked some of the correct emotions I would need to do this monologue.  I tried thinking of how if this had been me, that I may not ever meet the baby my sister is pregnant with, or wouldn’t get to see my nephew grow up.  These things really hit an emotional chord with me.  Of course this all began coming together at the last minute though.  The entire rehearsal period, I thought I had the right emotions where they needed to be, but they were never quite right.  It wasn’t until Sunday morning running through it before the service with Wendi and she reminded me that there was an ebb and flow to the piece.  I doubt she realizes it but that helped me more than I had expected it to.  Soon it was time for the first performance.

I waited anxiously just outside of the sanctuary for my light cue to enter. I walked out with my cane, hoping the audience could see the pain when I walked.  I took my place on the bench and began talking.  The words came effortlessly and I felt as though I really had the church goers that morning entranced.  I finished the piece, waited for the blackout and quickly exited the sanctuary.  I truly felt as though I had done everything I had wanted and that Wendi tried to get me to do.  I was so overcome with emotion that I actually started to cry.  I’m not sure if they were tears of relief to have gotten through it or tears of emotion because I really felt the words that I was saying.  It took me a few minutes to calm down enough to go out to the lobby where I would eventually greet the guests when the service was over.  I didn’t tell anyone how I was feeling, as I wasn’t and still aren’t sure of the reason. 

The second service performance was pretty shaky for me. I’m not sure if I was just expecting too much from it or what, but within three lines I was already making mistakes and unfortunately it flustered me and I don’t feel as though I did as well as the first time.  People still came up to me after the service and told me what a nice job I did and I am truly thankful for all the kind words I received from people, but inside I was mad at myself for not doing a good job on the second one. I wished I could have reprised the first performance, but apparently it wasn’t in the cards.  I just hope for the sake of John and Wendi that I didn’t let them down and hopefully I did some justice to the piece.

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6 Responses to "Asking for a Miracle by the Pool"

Jenny,

you were amazing both times and you didn’t let anyone down at all! I think that when you have an awesome first experience where the charactor touches you the way Annie does it is sometimes hard to recreate it your own mind a second time but that is happening only in your mind, not in the audience. John and I heard wonderful comments for both performances- have no worries, they were both great! Thank you so much for a great show, I know you touched many, many hearts Sunday.

Thank you Wendi! Monologues are not my strong suit at all so I am always really nervous about them. I really did enjoy working on it with you!

Imagine what a “miracle” it would be if we had 16 perfect performances at Cuneo. That won’t happen because we are human.

I remember two performances that have stuck with me for a very long time. The time I played Annie Sullivan in Morning After the Miracle with Kevin and the time I played the wife in the Crucible.

Fantastic performances the first time on but again never really sure that I would be able to duplicate them if I had to. But each time I did the performances,I was the same person, with the same feelings, coming across differently, just like each of us in real life. Do you think that someone with ALS would be able to think, breathe, walk, etc the same way each day? Nope. The disease would affect you differently each time, depending on stress, days events, lack of sleep, having done too much the day before.

I am sure you did justice to Annie each time, just differently, the same way “she” would have been herself in real life.

YOU ROCK!

(Of course, it is always helpful to have good direction and a decent script/message to portray too.)

It would take a very strong woman to do a performance like this, especially more than once. Go easy on yourself, I’m sure it was way better than you think.
Saw you comment over at the Jungle, I think I’ve got Lance dancing scared. He’ll probably need a few lessons from you!

Thanks for stopping by Audra! I think we can get Lance into dancing shape between the 2 of us!

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