Jessi Walters Blogs About “Our Country’s Good”

MTC Jessi WaltersIt’s dark in my apartment, and my bed is terribly soft and warm. I’ve snoozed my alarm far too many times, and my cat is meowing to go outside. I’m exhausted, I’m fighting off bronchitis, it’s Easter, and the last place I want to be is inside of a dark theater for six hours.

But I get up, unwillingly, somehow manage to get my pants on, and make it to the car. It’s a beautiful drive, but I can’t shake the crushing feeling of being overwhelmed by the full plate of life I’ve given myself. My brain is chattering a million miles a minute, my thoughts are tinged with negativity, I’ve got a mean case of post-show depression, and I wasn’t able to put as much work as I wanted to into my script and accents over the weekend.

I feel guilty and a little embarrassed that I won’t be prepared for what is essentially six hours of blocking Our Country’s Good. I didn’t give myself enough time to get a proper meal in, and everything is closed due to the holiday. Gas station breakfast it is. As I’m a few blocks away from the theater, I just lose it, and rivers of hot tears pour down my face. I’ve hit a wall.

I feel way too vulnerable, and I just don’t want to get myself up. I pull over, wipe my cheeks, slap a Joker-esque smile on my face and hold it for 30 seconds.  I’ve heard that even pretending to smile will eventually trigger the chemicals in your brain to produce a real smile. You know, fake it ‘til you become it, or something of the sort.  

I pull into the theater, take a deep breath, park my car, and look up to see Scott with a warm smile. I smile back. It feels good.

Friends and castmates start to wander outside. There are witty exchanges, a gentle hand on my shoulder, a warm hug. I can feel the good vibes start to chink away at my bitter armor and I make a conscience choice to leave it all at the door where it belongs.

Walking into a theater, and particularly the empty Venetian, is something that fills me with thanks and wonder time and time again. I look around and see my wonderfully warm company, exchanging laughs and digging into the lone, nostalgic Easter basket filled to the brim with candy. We jump onto the stage, start blocking, and life just melts away.

We play, we watch, we laugh, we learn, we try new things that aren’t quite right, but have a great time anyway. And then we get out early.

Walking out of the theater yesterday, I felt better than I had in the last ten days. I came to the theater kicking and screaming, and the theater healed me as it always does. I got out of my head, pushed my worries and ego aside, got out of my body, and fell into the loving arms of my friends and my theater.

One of the main themes of Our Country’s Good is the transformative power of theater. And by God, as an actor and a human it so often does just that, time and time again.

It’s more than just getting together, learning the lines, and putting on a show. It’s a place to go, a mindset to free, and the ability to become anyone and go anywhere you want. It springs new, fresh life, just when you thought the well went dry.

Talk about some chicken soup for the soul.

Jessi Walters
Bag&Baggage Resident Acting Company