Saturday, December 14, 2013

Words As Silent Tattoos


On December 12, I went to a rehearsal of "The Words We Wear" at the Goldman Theater in the Orlando Shakespeare Center. The theater space was pitch black when I entered. I stood behind the back row waiting for my eyes to adjust. The directors Aradhana Tiwari and Kevin Becker greeted me warmly. The Goldman is a small intimate space so I decided to sit house left near the back.

Actress Mikki Scanlon Kriekard was getting into military fatigues to perform a monologue Aradhana had written. The director asked all the other actors to clear the space. This was the first time Mikki was performing the monologue and the director didn't want any distractions. I kept sketching and thankfully Mikki and Aradhana didn't consider me a distraction.

It had been 192 days since the soldier had spoken. She had been stationed in Afghanistan and things had happened over their that would get under anyone's skin. When she returned, people seemed like a sea of pages walking the streets. She felt she had been stained by silent tattoos. She came close to relating the horrors that she had seen, but she stopped short. Then she met a young girl that could read her like an open book, seeing the scars and invisible tattoos. The girl gave Mikki a slip of paper laced with hope and redemption. The room was silent and full of emotion. I didn't know why but my face flushed and in the darkness hot tears roll down my cheeks. No one could see. Mikki, as a brave soldier managed to keep her emotions in check but when she related how thankful she was, her throat constricted and she had to slow down to keep from crying, for the first time she felt hope.

After the performance, there were notes from the director. I wiped my eyes and kept sketching. I began to wonder why I had been emotionally bowled over by the performance. A friend had a way of reading people and was able to heal others with a touch. She had a deep, heart felt faith. Yet she wasn't able to heal her own invisible scars left by life.  Her boyfriend, an artist, that she had just broken up with, drove to the Grand Tetons, did a few paintings and then shot himself. I only saw her once after her boyfriends funeral. She asked me to pray for her. I didn't pray. Several weeks later, she took her own life.  I realized that I hadn't cried at her funeral or since. What kind of person doesn't cry at a funeral? Instead of feeling anything, I sketched like a machine. At the time I was annoyed that the focus at the memorial service was on resurrection rather than on the suicide. The word wasn't uttered once. She wasn't rising from the grave. Due to red tape her body had yet to be cremated. I hadn't seen it coming. The one word on my mind remains WHY? How could someone with so much faith take their own life? Did she find the enveloping love of God that she hoped for? I wish I could believe that. Her suicide note absolved everyone from guilt, but guilt remains. I could have been a better friend. This performance finally made all the suppressed emotions bubble up to the surface.  There is so much to live for. The sun burns bright. What choice remains, but to hope?

The second part of the rehearsal involved the whole cast removing white fabric with negative words and then picking up fabrics from the clothes line with positive words. Some actresses removed scarves, shackles, belts and blindfolds. One fiery redhead looked like Jackie Onassis with big sunglasses and the head shawl that she threw away. In one run through, Becky Lane removed her negative garment and when she picked her life affirming clothes line fabric, she smiled and daintily nestled it in her cleavage with a silent film Chaplinesque flair as she walked off stage. I was thankful for the laugh.

"The Words We Wear" will be playing tonight at the Goldman Theatre in the Orlando Shakespeare Center (812 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL).
Saturday, December 14th at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM
Sunday, December 15th at 8:00 PM. (The Sunday performance is sold out.)
You can purchase tickets on the EpicVita website.

1 comment:

mikki mouth said...

thank you thor, for all you do. i appreciate this story and your beautiful way of sharing.