Thursday, June 21, 2012

I felt relief. I felt hope. I felt grateful.

June 21, 2012
By Nikki Rowell
Patron Services Manager 

Nikki Rowell
Photo by Kat Gloor
I read the script for The Year of Magical Thinking during a work day.   We had just learned that we would be producing the play for our 2012 Season and I was eager to see what it was about.  I was riveted immediately.  Joan Didon’s words resonated with me in such a way that I found myself silently weeping at my desk.   I wasn’t weeping because I was sad.  I wept because her words somehow captured a feeling in my heart that I had been unable to fully express for quite some time.  I felt relief.  I felt hope.  I felt grateful.  Her play reminded me of why I fell in love with theater in the first place. 

As a child, I had thought I would grow up to become a pediatrician.  I wanted to be like my Grandfather and take care of children.  My mother, on the other hand, always knew that I was going to be in the arts.   Maybe it was the constant singing or use of accents that tipped her off.  She used to tell me I spoke with a French accent when I was 3 years old.  We’re not French.   I digress. 
As was often the case, my mother was right.  I fell in love with theater and have firmly planted myself in this work for the past 10 years.   I like to think that made her happy.  
When I was 23, I lost my mother to breast cancer.  In the first moments of shock and grief, I wanted desperately for the world to stop.  To just pause for one second and recognize that she was no longer with us.  But the world kept moving.  Life goes on. 
I tell you this because when I read The Year of Magical Thinking, I felt like Joan Didion had given me permission somehow to take that pause.  And not only take a pause, but be able to experience this with other human beings.  Watching a play like this reminds us that even if the subject matter may seem difficult, we are not alone.  We are not alone in our grief.  That realization is beautiful and what makes theater different from any other form of entertainment. 
And so I look forward to giving myself permission to pause for a moment and watch The Year of Magical Thinking.  And I’ll appreciate the words that Joan Didion has written.  For her husband.  For my mother.  For me.  For all of us.   

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