Goodnight, Sweet Prince

I’m saddened to learn that Louis Scheeder, a great Shakespearean scholar, professor and director, passed today.

Louis was the first person I encountered in my adult professional life who made me feel that I was capable of doing the kind of work I wanted to do on stage. I worked with him a few times but playing Goneril in a production of King Lear he directed remains one of my all-time favorite acting experiences.

He was kind, rigorous, matter-of-fact, deeply thoughtful and always passionate. He fueled on black tea and bananas during long rehearsal days. I could hear Shakespeare’s musicality because of him.

I’ll never forget a brief conversation we had one night before a dress rehearsal. I was anxious, wondering if I could deliver, and I don’t know if he knew I was doubting myself. But he said something to me that forever changed how I looked at Shakespeare, acting in general, and myself. I have called upon those words in every single performance I’ve ever done. I even thought of him last week as I read through some Greek text.

It’s sobering when yet another brilliant and visionary artist leaves us. I’m beyond grateful that I knew him even a little and for his profound impact on my life and work. 💔

STOWE STORY LABS

I’m excited to share that I will be participating in the June Narrative Lab with Stowe Story Labs for my television pilot, Cheat Out. I was also a fellowship finalist for this Lab. I’ve already discovered that I will be in excellent company and know I will learn so much. Very grateful for this opportunity.

READ THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT

THE STORY OF US

Recently, I had a dream that I was standing at the top of a bridge. A man who had been stalking me came up from behind, mocking and grabbing me. As I twisted to get away, he lost his balance and fell down the cement stairs leading up to the bridge. I rushed down the stairs, calling 911 on my phone, and tried to stop the bleeding from his head as he sat up, still belligerent. Meanwhile, a celebration and a parade wound down as crowds of people meandered the streets, which now took on a medieval appearance. The actor Hector Elizondo was carried high on a wooden throne, wearing a crown, and was taken into a building under the bridge.

When I awoke from this dream, I was of course bemused by the appearance of Elizondo, whom I have not seen in movies lately and who has not crossed my mind in years. While the rest of the dream had parallels to other dreams and I could construe some of its meaning, Elizondo’s cameo was curious and seemingly out-of-place. However, because of the dreamwork I’ve been doing under the guidance of a teacher, I knew there were reasons not to dismiss it.

First of all, I thought about what Elizondo represented in that dream—what aspect of my own psyche. He was high above the fray and, although he glanced my way and knew me in the dream, he didn’t offer any assistance or get involved in the drama. He was royalty, and perhaps an important part of the holiday or celebration. I don’t have much insight into any of that yet.

My next step, though, was to look up the meaning and origin of his name. When I did, I discovered that “Hector” was the man who, in Greek mythology, led the Trojans in their battles to defend Troy against the Greeks. Interesting. And here’s where synchronicity comes in…

The following day, I’m sent a script of a new play by a local playwright. In part, it’s a modernization of The Trojan Women, and there are several sections which recount, in great detail, the story of Hector and his wife, Andromache. As I read and research the script, I delve further into the tragedy of these mythical characters. I had briefly studied Achilles at some point in my life but don’t recall ever learning about Hector or Andromache.

These two were portrayed as the epitome of loving and devoted partners—at times fulfilling traditional roles but also stepping into their non-traditional masculine or feminine qualities if the situation called for it. Hector was brutally killed by Achilles, as was Andromache’s father and all her brothers. Her mother died of illness during the war. Worst of all, after the murder of her husband, her infant son is stolen from her arms and thrown over the walls of the city. The man who killed her son then takes her for his concubine, and she is later nearly assassinated by that man’s wife, as she bears him more children. Eventually, after enduring years of grief and slavery, Andromache is freed, marries the brother of her dead husband, and becomes a queen again, living into old age.

I’ve noticed that, as synchronicity becomes more consistent in my daily life, my dreams have gone into the realms of Myth. As a theatre and history buff, I’ve read my share of mythology, but most of what I’m dreaming about are places and characters that I have no recollection or knowledge of in my education. So, what am I tapping into? I believe it’s the Collective Unconscious…a place where Humanity stores a library of shared knowledge and experience accumulated over the centuries. As I pondered this idea, I did a little research into Carl Jung’s writing and he basically asserted the same thing—that dreams and synchronicities are connected to the Collective Unconscious, and that they serve to guide us out of our self-centered worldviews and into a greater awareness of Wholeness and Oneness.

On a personal level, I deeply connect to Andromache’s story, as I suspect many of us do right now. While, thank God, I haven’t suffered the same vast losses of family or directly experienced war, I do resonate with the complete loss of a former identity, the loss of home, the loss of relationships, and the long period of wilderness-wandering where one succumbs to grief, uncertainty and circumstances beyond one’s control.

Most of us have heard the idea that the world is a mirror of our inner life, because we can only experience the world subjectively. If we want to know what we really believe or how we really see ourselves, we can look to the external out-picturing around us for clues. I think our dreams can be a similar mirror. On a collective scale, my dream and synchronicity tell the story of a world at war with itself, of the grief attendant to global chaos, and of the struggle to awaken to the next evolutionary step. On a personal scale, it tells the story of my ego-death and subsequent grief, the uncertainty as to what comes next, and the impulse I feel to become something altogether new. I take comfort in the ancient myths and strange coincidences that surround us. We are singular characters in a greater story, and all we need to do is play our part.

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