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Friday, March 27, 2015

Theater and Legacy


I have been thinking a great deal about the notion of legacy, the things we leave behind as human beings. What's left of us when we have shuffled off our mortal coil.

Sorry... I don't mean to be a downer, and I don't really intend this post to be a depressing one, but, rather, as with everything I write for this blog, I'm simply trying to work through some thoughts and feelings on a subject that means a great deal to me.

Just yesterday, a gentleman I knew from different theater circles, passed away.  He was an actor, teacher, director, and playwright.  He was a mentor to a great number of people.  I wish I had known him better than just as a passing, friendly acquaintance, but I always had respect and admiration for his creativity, his intelligence, and his drive. He loved and understood theater in a way I aspire to.  We never worked together, which is actually odd when I think about it.

He knew he was dying, and this last week or so, Facebook was a used as a tool for him to say goodbye, and for people to say goodbye to him.  He wrote that it was like attending his own funeral, which is something he had always wanted to do.  I was overwhelmed and moved by all of the messages on his timeline, especially from his former theater students.  He touched so many lives through his various endeavors, achieving, in a way, his own piece of immortality.

I suppose it is natural, when someone in your life passes away, to think about your own life.  While it may seem self-indulgent, I feel it is a natural human by-product to loss and grieving, to try to filter the experience through your own world view, your own perceptions. I guess this is why I'm wondering today about the things I will leave behind.  How I will be remembered.  Of course, I hope it is a long time away, and that I have ample opportunity for rewriting and tweaking, adding, and fleshing out.  But, then again, when it comes down to it, I'm not really in control of my legacy.

But we're all in control of how we do our work and how we treat one another. This goes a long way.

I hope...

No.  I was going to write a list of things that I hope people remember me for, but, truly, that is not only self-indulgent, it's somewhat of a distraction.  Legacies are made by living, not by wondering what your legacy will be.

Backstage at Lakewood Theater, they have a wall with 8x10 photographs, the one's used for the marquee, of the people who we have lost.  It makes sense to me as a fitting tribute, a wall of remembrance.  After all, every cast is a family, and it is important to remember and honor your family.  Every production is a unique, shared moment in time, that changes all involved, creates a bond of common experience that never goes away, no matter how the years pile on, or how relationships may strain and break.  We'll always have that show together.

You see, those weeks spent working together to create something have impact, the act of creation and collaboration is IMPORTANT.  It builds trust.  It builds humanity, in all of its forms.  We give our hearts and minds to a process in order to make something for others--- family, friends, and even strangers.

It is all about that shared moment.

Because it only takes a single moment to live forever.

So instead of saying goodbye, perhaps I'll simply say this:

Break a leg, my friend.  

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