I know I’ve been writing about theatre topics a lot lately, but it’s a big part of my life again. I think I’m learning many valuable lessons from my thespian friends.
The show we’re doing now is particularly a pot of proverbial gold. The play is The Clean House –a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2005 and written by the talented Sarah Ruhl. I had read this play about a year ago and it never left me. When I saw that my friend Eric was directing it at a local community theater, I couldn’t resist auditioning.
The piece revolves around a Brazilian cleaning lady, Matilde, who would rather be a comedian. It seems superficial at first, but the play explores a wide range of human experiences from birth through death with many stops throughout the journey. There is poignance in the comedy of it—a lesson I hope our audiences walk away with. It’s been a fortuitous reminder for me in dealing with life.
I have, in the past, often taken things in life too seriously. It might have been from growing up as an only child surrounded by adults who dealt with me on their level. I think they leant me sobriety, patience, and caution—good qualities, without a doubt. But Matilde and the other characters in the play teach us about a lot of other traits we should embrace. Lane—the stoic doctor—shows us we should sometimes put aside out own desires in order to help others. Her sister, Virginia, helps us see that it never has to be too late to get what you want or need in life, even if your goals may have changed along the way. Charles, Lane’s husband, demonstrates that spontaneity isn’t bad, especially if there’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at hand. And then there’s Ana—the other woman—who embraces life with an attitude so positive she glows, even amidst complications.
Finally, there’s my character. Matilde. She is all about laughing to get through life and helping others to do the same. But I feel there’s more to her than that—maybe the luckiest tidbit of wisdom I’ve learned from her. I believe she shows us that it’s always okay to start over in life. You can always find a new place where you can grow. You can always begin a new scene in the play of your life.
I’m lucky I found Matilde.