I knew when I began this blog that it would not only be about change, it would undergo change. With the opening of “Metamorphoses” at Georgia Shakespeare, my attention is expanding to include other projects, so the blog will inevitably expand as well.
To begin with, I have another acting project. This Monday I’m spending my day off in a theater, the Alliance, doing a reading of a new play about dementia. The play is “Absence” by Peter Floyd; you can find information about the reading here.
I first encountered “Absence” in a new-play series several months ago, when I was hired to read the part of the dementia patient’s middle-aged daughter. I knew the subject matter all too well.
My husband and I have moved both of our mothers to assisted living in the last few years. We’ve experienced the falls, the emergency rooms, the hospitalizations. We’ve taken over the checkbooks. With our siblings, we’ve sorted our mothers’ possessions and sold their houses. And we have come to accept that they both have dementia.
Peter Floyd’s mother also suffers from this cruel, mystifying condition. He’s written a play that works its way into the patient’s mind and allows the audience to experience what it must be like to change so fundamentally that the world around you no longer makes sense.
Peter has crafted a story that could be my own. It’s different, of course; we have different mothers, and the fictional characters in the play have quirks of their own. But he nails the experience of loss and the possibility of redemption that come with this illness.
I have been told that my mother still has things to teach me, and I believe that’s true. She and I are walking this journey of loss together. Most of the time, I have to keep a wall between my life with her and my other tasks. I have to stay strong. I can’t let grief get in the way of my work. With this play, though, my personal and professional paths converge for a moment, a blessed moment of presence.
This is the value of art in my life. It requires my presence. Whether I’m acting in a play or standing before a painting or listening to live music, I am required to be there and nowhere else, to focus my mind and heart on the task at hand.
Art is vital; art is is life-giving. Art matters. I learned that lesson early in life, from the smartest woman I know. My mother.