Stave 4: The Last of the Spirits
“The Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When it came, Scrooge bent down upon his knee; for in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery.”
Charles Dickens, Stave 4, A Christmas Carol.
There is a sacredness to the theater. A mysterious unknown that requires faith, flexibility and reverence. Working in this medium, I am aware that anything can happen, from mayhem to miracles, and that it is necessary for me to be open to whatever may come my way.
The time before the stage manager calls “places” contains an electricity, filled with anticipation, ritual and breath. I’ve always carried a traveling altar to set up in my dressing room specifically for this moment. No matter how many times I open a show I always feel a spark of nervousness, a feeling of being alive, a rush of adrenaline. When the butterflies enter my stomach and my heart begins to dance I gaze upon my trinkets, take a stone in my hand or take a whiff of the many essential oils I carry with me.
I work in the business of the unknown, and my work demands that I live in the moment. Many times I am living a gypsy life moving from place to place with an uncertainty of where I will go next. What I do know is that each job brings opportunity for learning, growing, reflection and action.
The Ghost of Christmas yet to come represents consequences, how present actions can effect future outcomes. Scrooge is shown the worst possible future that is a result of his current selfishnes, indifference and lack of concern for his fellow man. As theater artists, or “teatristas,” we don’t always know when the next job will come along. Each day while working on a show is a valuable lesson in gratitude and appreciation for that specific moment in time. We have to make a conscious effort to work productively, creatively and positively with everyone we come across in a show, because we never know when we may work with them again. The way we work on each show directly affects the future opportunities that come our way and can determine if people choose to work with us or not. Our job is to create worlds, to invoke memory, to bring the written word to life. We uphold an ancient practice of storytelling, a sacred responsibility.
At this moment I’m fortunate to have my first experience of closing one show and within a day beginning rehearsals for another. I’m taking the joy and creativity that I experienced in the room for A Christmas Carol and continuing my artistic path in a new room, with new comrades for Culture Clash’s revival of Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. I walked into the first day of rehearsal was a Virgen de Guadalupe that was draped along the back wall of the rehearsal space. I knew immediately, I am where I am supposed to be…
“Holding up his hands in a last prayer to have his fate aye reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phantom’s hood and dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwindled down into a bedpost.”
Charles Dickens, Stave 4, a Christmas Carol