Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lessons from "Little Women"

I was just about to write about something totally different, but my iPod is on shuffle, and "Our Finest Dreams" from the Broadway musical Little Women just came on. I was blessed with the opportunity to be in that show last school year, and it was an amazing experience. The show is based on the book of the same title by Louisa May Alcott. It follows the journeys of four sisters growing up in Civil War America. It follows, in particular, the life of the second oldest sister, Jo, who "yearns to travel, and write great books." I played the role of Meg, the oldest sister. This show isn't your average musical comedy. Each and every character is deep and complex. It was awesome studying the book, the show, and the time period for character development. The characters were there. We just had to find them. We got to know each one, and they became our friends. When I was on stage with the girls, it wasn't Sarah, Laura, Paula, and Maria, it honestly was Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. It was the greatest thing ever. When we got in character, we became them. After rehearsals, we'd do and say things that were not our own. They belonged to the girls we were portraying on stage. It wasn't limited to the sisters. Ellen, who played Marmee, was a senior and became the one we called when we needed comforting. There were times when I needed a friend, and then I'd go to rehearsal and become Meg. I had a friend in her and her sisters.
Now, I don't want to sound all Jekyll and Hyde here. I wasn't assuming another personality. What was happening was something that every actor longs for. It was an absolution of character development. If you know your character well enough to be able to befriend them, you can embody them when you're on stage. If you are so much in character that your lines come naturally, as they are what the character would say anyway, you're doing it. (It also makes improv AWESOME.) I loved being a part of this show. It made me a better person. I learned so many lessons. Here are a few of them.

Family is the most important thing. The March family showed this to me on many occasions. The family is the central unit to society. If you have your family, you can do anything. Love them. They won't be here forever.

Letting people go is hard, but it's what necessary. I sang this song with Laura (who played Jo) after the show at the SGA graduation. I didn't get to sing this song in the Senior Troupe production, but singing it with Laura at the graduation was an awesome experience. It was SO emotional. I love the girls graduating, and I didn't want to see them go. But I sang the part of Beth, and that's the part asking to be let go. I was recognizing that Somethings Are Meant to Be.

You never know who your best friends are going to be. Even if they seem weird (or maybe even creepy) at first, do be afraid to Take a Chance on Me.

Sometimes things go wrong, and that's the way it has to be. This is something that I was taught very well the year of Little Women. Bad things happen, but it's up to you to pick yourself  up and move on. Days of Plenty is a song that Marmee sings to Jo about Beth's death. It wasn't included in our version of the show, but I love it anyway.

Love makes you a better person. Now, I did get to sing this one in the show. Funny story: Right after our last dress rehearsal (the day before opening), my friend Nick, who played John Brooke, broke his foot. Seriously. We didn't know what would happen, but after many prayers and a doctor, he was able to perform (in a black boot, but without crutches.) After we finished this song, we held the end while everyone clapped. It was AWESOME. Nick is my buddy, and I really love him. That song was a team effort - especially those shows.  Although we were friends before, I think we learned to have that Christ-like love for one another that Friday night performance. It is in a much different context, but I became More Than I Am.

Forgiveness is necessary. Amy does something dreadful to Jo, and Jo is FURIOUS. She refuses to forgive her. But when an ice-skating accident almost takes Amy away forever, Jo realizes something. "'I had let the sun go down on my anger; I wouldn't forgive her, and today, if it hadn't been for Laurie, it might have been too late! How go I be so wicked?' ...Neither said a word, but they hugged one another close, in spite of the blankets, and everything was forgiven and forgotten in one hearty kiss." (Little Women, pg 85)

The past is amazing, but people grow and change. Don't be afraid of the future.
This is something I struggle with. I hate letting go of the good times in the past. I hate seeing people change - especially for the worse. I pray that my heart will be softened to letting go of things that are in the past so I may look forward with a brightness of hope. The Fire Within Me makes me cry- Every. Single. Time.
Be brave. Sometimes it's scary. But we've got the Lord on our side, and we can really do ANYTHING. We can be Astonishing too!

Have fun. This whole show was a ball. From the giant trees in Volcano Press to the hoop skirts in Delighted, and the sword fighting in Finest Dreams to the two of us lovers limping on together after the ball, it was pure joy. This song captures it for me: Our Finest Dreams.

DO NOT let fear rule your life. Live, laugh, sing, dance, cry, paint, learn, read, write, act, work, ice skate, play, fly a kite, fall in love.

That mysterious hero may be your sister. Weekly Volcano Press. That's all I have to say

Let your light shine in the storm. Jo was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in. I love that about her. We shouldn't be afraid either because:

Sometimes when you dream, your dreams come true. In extraordinary ways, suddenly a day can be so amazing. And sometime when you yearn, you burn the air. And then, you are not the same, and the world is... Astonishing. Here's this song.

I LOVE Little Women. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I'm grateful for the "March Madness" I got to be a part of. The "family" really became my family, and I love each one of them, as well as the rest of the cast and crew. I love the book, and my copy is one of my treasured items. I am so thankful for the lessons I learned from Little Women.

Peace from the East,

1 comment:

  1. "The Fire Within Me" stills makes me cry every time I listen to it. And I love what you said about the actor/character relationship. I definitely had that in Midsummer - it's one of the coolest feelings in the world. It truly is a gift.