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Stop Acting and Start Living Today

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Sometimes it’s too hard to keep pretending everything’s okay.

I love going to a play.

I show my ticket at the door and accept a complimentary glass of medium sherry, part of the old world charm of Spectrum Theatre in Albany. I follow the usher into the tiny theatre, settle in my red leather seat and take a sip. While liquid warmth trickles down my throat I listen to the rustle of people in suits and satin fussing and whispering.

An unknown voice over the sound system tells me to turn off my mobile. An unseen hand dims the lights. I stare at the expanse of heavy purple curtains, waiting for them to part, for the magical immediacy of humans performing rehearsed lines before a live audience to begin.

Plays always involve at least one of the seven deadly sins, usually lust, greed, anger, jealousy or pride. What will this one be about?

Halfway through the first scene, when I’m beginning to enjoy the intricacies of the  plot, the main actor sits on the edge of the stage, puts his head in his hands and says,

‘I can’t do this any more!’

I frown. His anguished statement doesn’t fit with what’s happening in the play.

What can’t he do? What’s going on? Am I witnessing a live mental breakdown? Should someone shut the curtains and call an ambulance or counsellor? More to the point, will I be reimbursed?

The dramatic tension filling the theatre is so powerful it’s seeping under the ancient double wooden doors and wafting up York Street.  

Before my boggling eyes the play I’d paid good money to see falls apart. The actor, instead of following his lines, tells me he’s having a hard time in his private life. He’s not happy. Although his fellow actors try to get him back into the play, their attempts fail. They succumb to his personal plot and the play is forgotten.

But it quickly dawns on me that I’ve been tricked by a dramatic element. Everything I’m seeing is meant to happen. This isn’t a theatrical disaster; it’s the product of a clever playwright presenting a profound message:

Sometimes it’s too hard to keep pretending everything’s okay.

Although the play cleverly continues along its new trajectory and I appreciate the evening’s entertainment, I find it unsettling.

On the drive home I wonder if it’s time for me to sit down on the edge of my personal stage, put my head in my hands and confess, ‘I can’t do this any more!’

It’s an interesting thought . . .

What would happen if I stopped acting my life and started living it instead?

Personal honesty is a pathway to freedom.

With love, Marlane

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