Look What They’ve Done

“Look what they’ve done to my song, Ma….” was running through my head all Good Friday as I anticipated seeing Once More with Passion on someone else’s stage.  My version of the old song contained a slight variation, however, given that it wasn’t about a song.  “Look what they’ve done to our play” were the actual lines running through my head until we arrived at Grace Community Church in Winnipeg that evening.  I wondered whether I should be bracing myself for a horrible performance that would send me home in tears or whether I’d see a fabulous presentation that would make ours look shabby…which would send me home in tears.

Jon and I attended with my mom and step-dad (who’d missed it when we did it here in Portage), and I was surprised at how my heart was pounding as we arrived at the church and found our seats.  I’d been communicating with the director throughout their rehearsal process, so she knew I was coming and had me stand to be acknowledged.  This I found particularly intimidating because she introduced me before the play began, meaning people would know exactly where to cast their glares if they took issue with any of the dialogue.  Oh well.

As the story progressed, my nerves settled but my director’s eyes and ears simply refused to relax.  As I expected, there were things they did that I liked, and things that… well, let’s just say, I had to let go.  I couldn’t help wondering about their reasons for some of the choices made in blocking, costuming, music, and casting.  In certain spots I wanted to stand up and say “pick up the pace, this is dragging!” or “we’ve got to strengthen that ending, guys.”  Of course I didn’t.  They did a fine job.

And that is one of the beauties of theatre.  They teach us that it’s all about making choices, and there is no one “right” choice.  If every director and every actor made the same choices, each production would be a cookie-cutter copy of every other one.  What would be the point of that?  What if every artist painted the same picture, or every photographer shot the same thing in the same light?  What if there were only one way to sing a song?  Any way, it was all a bit surreal and I went home imagining that this experience was somehow an important part of my own journey in learning to let go and respect the choices of other directors.

The next day I got an email that put it all into perspective.  It was from the director, saying that 16 of the people she had invited came to see the play, most of them not Christians.  Not “all 16 people” she’d invited, mind you, but 16 out of the total.  I don’t know how many she’d invited, but I knew how many I’d invited.  None.  (The parents and the PAC drama team members notwithstanding.)

Suddenly I was humbly reminded what it’s all about, and how God can and will do what He’s going to do with my gifts, in spite of me.  I had to apologize to God for getting things out of focus yet again.  “I’m sorry for putting myself at the centre of this,” I said.

His response came back in a gentle whisper of thought:  “That’s okay, Child.  You never actually were.”

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