I am directing a show called "Other Desert Cities" at the Community Academy of Stage and Theatre in Williamsport, and we open this weekend. There are many, many aspects of the script that appealed to me the first time I read it, and because the story is so compelling and well-written, different parts speak to me each time we run the show.
One night, it was the line, "Everything in life is about being seen, or not seen," spoken by the daughter-writer, as she defends her decision to pen a memoir about the death of her Vietnam-War-protesting older brother. Like most good writing, there is a universal application to this specific sentence. Everything in life is about being seen or not seen, when you think about it. When we are striving for good, we want to be seen, to be noticed, to be appreciated, to be admired, to be valued, to be taken seriously. When are not seen for who we are, it hurts. Conversely, when we do wrong, we don't want it to be seen. We don't want our flaws to tossed in our face, we don't want our selfishness to be exposed.
Another night, it was a line describing the final moments of the actor-father's life, as he has a conversation with an imaginary director on his deathbed: "He could do better. He had another take in him." Again, this refers to the "take" of a film set, but it applies to any life at its end. We will regret our wrongs, we will regret the chances we didn't take, the words we didn't speak. Many of us have the fear of Thoreau, to "come to the end of life and discover I had not lived." But, spoiler alert: we don't get "another take" when our time is up.
Still another time, the line was, "Relationships are hard-earned things. They have a reason and a logic to them." The daughter goes on to tell her mother that their rocky position is "the relationship we have earned." How true. The relationships we find ourselves in are the ones we have earned, together. No relationship is a one-sided endeavor.
Last night, the line that hit me came again from the daughter-writer, when she asked, "Is there a blanket ban on writing about my life if it involves anyone else?" I struggle with this all the time on this blog platform. There are many things I would love to write about -- from the crazed woman who drives by my house on a regular basis to spy on me and my family to the complexities of co-parenting -- but I refrain from anything but wide-sweeping generalizations because that type of writing would "involve anyone else."
Also, add the fact that I am a teacher and the situation is compounded. I have been repeatedly personally attacked even this year, and I am unable to write about it or even defend myself because of my job. In the "real world," I would actually have grounds to sue this person for slander.
The mother in the show threatens to sue her daughter, actually. But the idea is dismissed because it would add more of a splash to what they already fear will be a scandal when the book is published. And, really, that is why I so often take the high road. After all, as the mother also says, "The truth will out." Everything is eventually seen, from hard-earned relationships to our final take.