I think this is my first post about theatre on this blog. With my attempts at blogging about how theatre impacts every day life once a week on All the World’s a Stage, I haven’t been sure exactly what to say about my dramatic life here that wouldn’t be a simple reposting of the same thoughts.
This week I am here to post about the deep meaning and impact I found and experienced in watching my actors (also known as my kids) perform A Christmas Carol the past two weekends. There is, of course, the pride and excitement at watching my actors overcome self-conciousness and pushing themselves to abandon themselves to the dedication of their art in order to raise money for the Allentown Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter and so much more, but that emotion is only part of it.
When I directed A Christmas Carol five years ago we focused on Scrooge’s obsession with amassing and controlling wealth. This time I wanted to explore how Scrooge’s greed controlled him, picking up on the theme of chains that Charles Dickens crafted for us in the depiction of Marley.
Chains were present from the beginning. Starting out as the chain from a pocket watch, gaining weight with the chain trim that graced Scrooge’s robe, growing with each new Spirit’s visit. At first Scrooge is oblivious to his chains, but as the Spirits expose his heart to him, he sees how entrapped he is.
Desperate to be rid of the chains, he clutches at them but cannot take them off. In the end, the chains are ripped from him as he begs for mercy and proclaims his repentance.
It was one of my favorite scenes: the music, the lights, the group of ghosts closing in on Scrooge, his cries, the chains falling to the floor, were powerful. But it’s deep meaning wasn’t just in the artistic experience but in the personal remembrance of God’s work in breaking chains in my heart this year.
2015 was not easy for me. I started out the year recovering from a brutual hand injury. I had just begun to surface out of the depression that had crept in when my mentor killed herself. The tragedy pushed to the surface years of anger and bitterness towards God that I had repressed.
The short version of my journey over this year is, God dealt with me. He didn’t send me three spirits to expose my anger, but in the end the result was the same: He removed my chains. When I watched the chains getting torn from Scrooge, when I heard his cries of repentance, I thought about my own experience with shackles, my battle to repent, my fear at the pain of being freed from the anger that weighed me down. As I watched Scrooge prance around his bedroom after being returned and restored, I thought about the newness of joy that I have now.
This is not to say that I don’t still struggle. I do. Just yesterday I told my Pastor that I have never believed God was good. That declaration came out of the exhaustion of finishing a production and the fresh pain of not understanding why God has allowed the suffering that He has.
Even though it’s an exaggeration to say I have never believed God is good, I do struggle with trusting that God is consistent in His goodness. I see His grace, but do not yet have the faith to believe that He is good in the face of things that seem so bad and evil. But after seeing God work to break my chains of anger, I know that God can free me from my doubt.
These are the things that I thought to myself as I watched my actors #FightforBeauty on stage, and this is why I love theater. It impacts us. It mirrors our own journey. And sometimes it gives us hope that we will one day be free.