Each scuff on the stage is some poor character’s misstep.
Clunky unfamiliar shoes. Heavy heeled.
Scarred the thick black matte some poor soul was paid to paint.
So many scuffs in the same space seem to create a scar.
A gouge. A place gone bare.
Where now the plywood can be seen.
Like a relative.
Like a minister of some kind closing only one eye with a headnod.
A family made up solely of the unfamiliar.
Strangers. Who share blood. When we squeeze the egg.
Globs of it left out glistening on the floor.
So many scars and you start to see real damage.
Splintered fibrous tissue torn up through the paint.
Wide eyed wonder and anchor jawed acknowledgment.
Brakes struck down through the boots now officially digging into the structure.
The lumber-boned and lead-skinned body of our theater. Footsteps.
Stumbles. Outright tumbles. Foot falls. Close calls.
So many misdirected footsteps wearing unfamiliar shoes.
Then new paint.
What is new paint put up against the past.
Scuffed. Broken. Peeled up.
But if we didn’t paint it every year
there’d be no stage left.
When I write, I sometimes play this game where I imagine how my words will read three hundred years from now. I think, if there is a reference or phrase I can use that is somehow less likely to become irrelevant, or if it seems more timeless, then perhaps my sentiment will resonate longer. I write for the canon. Not for myself. And not really for an audience. I write for the leviathan. For time itself. Casting out my voice relentlessly for the simple sake of seeking to inspire an echo.
I’m like a kid. Playing war. But in a beautiful, yet professional manner. Dressed up like my ancestors. And my goodness, has it been fun.
I know there’s no universal measurement for success. But if success is living a life that would actually impress your twelve year old self, I’m doing it.
And I’m proud of the old man.
Jesus Christ has been portrayed hundreds of times across many different platforms. Television series, movies, cartoons, reenactments, and almost every form of media imaginable. Of course, over time, stories tend to get retold and gently reshaped into forms more familiar to their audience. And a Middle Eastern Jewish man gets mistaken, quite often, for a Scots-Irish, blue-eyed North American southerner. Hey. It happens. I always say, I’ve been called worse. But I must admit, I play a pretty good Jesus. And, even as a Christian, I understand how this man and people like him get made into caricatures over time. But caricatures are still enjoyable. At fairs, and events, any kind of gathering or celebration. Suddenly everyone looks to the corner of the room, and simply because of some congruence of beard, hair to the shoulder and a pleasant demeanor, everyone thinks, Jesus. It’s become a character. And a character that denotes a level of mindfulness and respect on the part of any actor who makes an attempt. And many have. To varying degrees of success. And I am joining their ranks.
I play a pretty mean Jesus. Not mean mean, just dead on, laid back and sensitive, mostly smiles. I’m an actor, primarily working in historic dramas, so keeping my hair long is standard practice, and not shaving often is as well. Add a floor length robe and leather sandals, and you have your very own Jesus to attend Easter luncheon, your birthday party, youth group event, Holiday celebration or any gathering. Even if you’re not religious, maybe you just really enjoy irony. The idea of a guy who looks like the idea we have of how Jesus is supposed to look, sitting there listening while you talk politics with your peers. Any event, really, except crucifixion. I am your Jesus.
But it seems a shame to wait for every area I’m in to put on a production of Superstar, or for someone to remake The Last Temptation with anyone who in any way engenders the image of Christ.
I want to offer this character for contract. This is Jesus. Linen robes and leather sandals and long hair and dark beard. Sitting there, ineffectual, at the open bar for your wedding reception. Or showing up with baskets of candy at an Easter celebration. Or reading the lessons for a cantata or holiday service.
Even if you just want Jesus to sit there in the corner, sleepy-eyed, smiling at everyone and talking about farming.
I am the actor for you.
Oh, and a side note, literally any other biblical character as well.
Homogenization is a powerful thing.
It’d be a shame to not take advantage.
It’s official, I left my job at Foust after four incredible years. What an opportunity, and like most good things in life, buried at the center of a nesting doll of so many other jobs and situations. I remember working at the suit store in the morning, then landscaping all afternoon, gardening all evening, and walking my dogs just praying, begging God for a better way to make a living.
It isn’t just a phrase when people say you work for the job you want, not the one you have. Nothing was promised, but I trusted, and each job dropped me off exhausted, ready, done, right on the doorstep of a better one. I feel blessed. I feel hungry, but in the best way. I’m knocking down the door of a greater opportunity already. I’m not exactly sure what life will look like on the other side of this hike, but I have a good feeling
Foust is a part of it.
Which means for now, this really isn’t a true to form good bye.
So much as it is a to-be-continued in disguise.
Dear Liberty Mountain,
What’s with all the shotguns and shouting?
Dead bodies all about the stage
trying not to breathe.
Remember to keep your fingers still.
Brave boys. Die with or without honor
for a few dollars. Same as it ever was.
Thought I do prefer these soldiers.
From one wing to another.
Not across real battlefields.
But fields for wild flowers.
I have seen a feather petaled passionflower in this crowd.
A bouquettle of oxeye daisies. For certain,
a black eyed Susan, or two. And so many
violets playing violent. Pretending war.
Besides, what else are stages for?
No matter the play.
Some form of makebelieve war.
Same goes for real ones.
So thank you Liberty Mountain,
for that lesson. That blessing
buried inside every
single one of us
within all of our art.
Dear actors playing people playing soldier,
no need to reason why or do or die.
Or anything like that, thank God.
Please just show up and play your part.
Spat out sentences like life, or death.
To do, or not to, no matter how much you want to. Don’t.
Use your mouth for a pencil and an audience like paper.
Fill them. Move them. Ruined. Stained. Like ink on a page.
And better be. For the money they paid.
Hardback wood seats embedded engraved copper
with the names of other patrons. Burgundy curtain.
Beige carpet. Used to be a movie theater.
Now a playground for the grown followers of Peter Pan.
A medicine cabinet to those who still take sugar by the spoonful.
By the roomful. Mouths all held agape and waiting.
Debating, could I do that if I wanted to?
Wear an ashy old hat and hum into a warped kazoo.
Sing a line of comfort, out loud, and acquire a choir
of voices who fear making no such choices.
Already out in the light waiting to be spotted.
Nervous wiggling swords in the wings.
Say a few words, then she sings.
And in just a few minutes,
all hell breaks loose.
Fire and demons and love-lust forgiveness.
Chased by heaven and angels
and everything else guilt invented.
Choreographed to look like chaos.
Words once wet ink spat out like cold coffee.
Like watermelon seeds. Like blood.
A reminder that more goes on inside each instant than any of us would care to admit.
That memory is mostly magic. And reality, despite being neither a game or a toy,
can still be an appropriate thing to play around with.
Half moon ribbed peach lips parted.
Crystal cracked corners at the creased angles of eyes
in lines that still go away afterward.
Not for long. Yet still, for now.
Kids smile. Just don’t know why.
Which is probably how.
And how it spreads like secrets.
Gets shared around by people.
When we see innocence still capable of feeling. Authentic.
In a world of grown up actors. Dollar sign directors.
Producers who never gripped a plow. Applause.
And faked up emotions to match the other audience members.
Then this kid. At this age. Insistent. On his stage.
Doesn’t care if we sold a single ticket.
This is his play.