We’re diving into our second week of rehearsal, or should I say falling, sprinting, sitting, dancing, typing, swirling… Goodness, so many choices. Having a guest director who is keen on getting us out of our heads, and into our bodies, as well as bringing a highly experimental process to this show is simultaneously freeing and perplexing. There is no right or wrong, just play. We are encouraged to bring bold choices, while remaining open and aware enough to drop per-conceived notions depending on immediate inspiration. It sounds crazy, but it boils down to boldly following your instincts.
It’s like someone telling you to go to that delicious buffet and try one of everything- again, more choices. It struck me yesterday, when we were asked as an exercise to create different actions and poses that are reminiscent of “dance” and “office”, that as an actor, my choices are only limited by my own mind and abilities. So many options can be overwhelming.
How different my world is compared to Mary Agnes Russo, whom I play in The Best of Everything. Her life seems so simple, practically laid out in front of her like a well-used road map. Her choices are systematic, familiar, traditional, heavily influenced by the time in American history, and her gender role in society. She seems quite happy with her lack of variation and expectations as a young woman in the 1950’s.
That is not to say that Mary Agnes doesn’t have the opportunity to utilize her choices. I sense, rather than picking her own destiny based on her true desires, Mary Agnes, relinquishes her free will out of ease, fearful to ask herself what she really wants in life. Just when she thinks she has it all, the one thing she pines for is personal freedom, which she so willingly gave away in the first place.
I don’t blame Mary Agnes for choosing the road more often traveled. Really, I empathize immensely with her.
It’s not easy to be a fish that swims upstream like Mary’s co-worker, Caroline Bender. Questioning your place in the world, and acting outside of social norms on a daily basis can be exhausting- so many choices can drive a person crazy. Often we make decisions that lead us down the path of least- resistance, adapting to our influences and circumstances as we go.
But one thing I personally can attest to is that ease doesn’t always breed betterment. What the majority says isn’t always within an individual’s best interests.
And sometimes, making those enormous choices along the way are easier than swallowing the regret of not making a choice at all.
B&B Resident Acting Company
Mary Agnes Russo in The Best of Everything