As long as I'm on here researching Civil War dresses (anybody out there want to sew me a reenacting dress?) and watching New Moon trailers and being more disgusted with Nancy Pelosi than usual, I might as well get around to explaining that prayer request I posted at the beginning of the summer. Many of you asked for further explanation, and I never kept my promise to blog on the subject. I figure I owe it to you, and probably should be transparent about the situation to any LBCC people who might read this blog (though I doubt any of them do...).
I crewed three shows last semester. One of these was called "Til Death Do Us Part," and was a fairly off-color satire/farce about marriage. More on this later. The third show was a Stage Combat Revue which I stage-managed. I did a relatively good job - my directors will tell you I did an amazing job, but that's only because a coincidence involving prop-shopping convinced them that I was a mind-reader :-P During that show, a friend from school approached me and asked if I'd be interested in assistant stage-managing under him at a local community theater (which does free Shakespeare during the summer that I'm a big fan of), which was producing Moliere's Tartuffe.
I was, as you might understand, thrilled. This was going to be my chance to break out of school-theater and get a little exposure in the larger So.Cal. theater community. It wasn't going to pay, but when has that ever stopped me? And though Tartuffe has it's off-color moments, I had read it and knew it to be a funny, morally-centered farce that targeted religious hypocrisy and greed.
Then, a couple weeks later, I heard from the stage manager that they were changing the play, and would be producing Joe Orton's What the Butler Saw instead. At first, I wasn't bothered. It sounded, to me, like a murder mystery or parlour farce or something Wildean of that nature. But I was foolish and didn't do research on the play until a little later. When I did, I discovered it was a 1960's era sex-farce that involves, among other things, near-nudity and a plot that revolves around a psychologist's efforts to bed a young lady during a job-interview.
After discovering this, I did another foolish thing: I sat on it. It took me two weeks to get up the courage to tell the stage manager that I might have a problem with the play's content and that I wanted to read the script before I could let myself participate. He was fairly understanding (considering this was @ 3 days before auditions), and let me borrow a script.
It was a very funny play. It rips up mid-century British sexual hypocrisy, psychiatric silliness, and is a rather good demonstration of one lie leading to a bigger lie and hence to all kinds of degenerate doings. But it wasn't a funny play the way Tartuffe is a funny play. I wish that I had been able to find the words to explain it well to my stage-manager when I pulled out of the project (he didn't seem to think there was that much of a difference between the two plays), but for me the difference was this: Tartuffe compares a crooked thing (hypocrisy and greed) to a straight thing (the way Moliere's audience knew a family and a Church OUGHT to be run), and asks us to laugh at the crooked thing because it is crooked when compared to the thing which is straight. WTBS takes a straight thing (the Beauty of the human sexual relationship), breaks it, and then expects us to laugh because it is broken. I suppose we can laugh to keep from crying, but that's about all we can do.
And still, I argued with God (after posting that blogpost and sending out a rather overdramatic prayer-request email). "But God this is my CHANCE! I thought YOU wanted me to do theater! You gave me these gifts! And now that I finally get to use them, you pull THIS on me? My stage manager is going to think I'm a flaky, over-reacting, fundamentalist HICK!!!" And He just smiled and gave me a very nice Sunday sermon by a Romanian missionary on Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego, the Fiery Furnace and standing alone for Christ. And then He handed me a fantasy novel (God is SO SNEAKY sometimes) wherein the hero, an Irish Christian pretending to be a priest in pagan Norway, learns what it means to forget how to be comfortable and to stand in The Loneliest Place, where the Cross is, no matter what it costs us (thanks ALOT Lars Walker). And then He looked at me and said, "Seriously? I died for you, and you don't want to give up a play you know you'll regret in the end? You've been praying for a way to show yourself my Daughter - well, this is it."
So I bought my stage manager a cup of coffee and rather stumblingly explained why I couldn't do the play. Everything always sounds so eloquent in my head, but I admit, I've never been very good at getting it out past this tongue thing. I think I got him to understand, in the end, that I was a Christian who believed that certain sexual mores were important for the existence of a Good Society and that I couldn't put my name on the production of a play that flouted what I believed. He was understanding, God bless him, though he did wonder why I had a problem with this play when I had already done Til Death Do Us Part. I could make the argument that Til Death was one of those plays that only laughs at what is crooked-when-compared-to-the-straight, but when I think about it, my witness probably WAS harmed by my participation in that production (any play that inspires one to write a poem with first and last lines that read "My eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness" is probably morally questionable in some way... Remind me to post the rest of the poem later).
Anyway, I stumbled out of the coffee shop and into the rest of my summer, bitterly disappointed that my summer-theater opportunity was shot to pieces, but also feeling lighter and better about myself and my Faith than I had in a long time. I had come out into the light and declared sides. I had stopped sulking in the shadows, wondering what people would "think of me" if I drew a Christian line in the theatrical sand and refused to cross it. I had stood in the Loneliest Place, and it really hadn't hurt as much as I assumed it would. God is Good, the Cross is Glory, to live is Christ, and to die is Gain.
But now the summer's over, and I'm back at LBCC for a little while. I've got a part in a one-act, the script of which I haven't read yet. PLEASE PRAY that, a.) I won't actually be asked to do/say anything that would harm my conscience, b.) if I am asked to, I dunno, wear underwear-as-outerwear onstage or make out with another character or something, that I'll be able to stand up and declare sides once again. Courage isn't just something that you can use once and then trust that it will be there again when you need it. You have to nurture it within oneself, and I'm a pretty bad courage-gardener all told.
But in Christ, I can do Anything.