June 3, 2008.
I’ve sort of been putting off writing this blog because it means, after four months of actual work and even more time in preparation, a chapter in my life has ended. One week has passed since Saint Joan closed- actually it’s flown by. I’m maybe busier now than I was before which seems impossible. We had a lovely final two performances. Everyone got really slap-happy on Sunday- taking tons of pictures, giving cards and flowers, joking around, doing Vodka shots after the last scene, and shedding a few tears. After I came off stage at the end of the show I felt as though I literally could not have continued on for another moment, let alone another performance. I was utterly spent. There was really no time to process that it was the last show because it went by so quickly and then we were done. But we’d planned to do a Memorial Day BBQ and cast party the following day so we left it at that.
On Monday I met Mark, a castmate and our costumer, at the theatre to clean the dressing room and store the costumes. We were both very subdued to be back in our space under those conditions. We finished within an hour and he offered to wait while I locked up but I asked him to go on to the party without me. I needed to say goodbye on my own terms. I pulled out my stool that I used in the trial scene and sat down in the middle of the stage. I breathed in the scent of the theatre and looked at the rows of empty seats. I thought about the journey I’d taken as this character and what I had learned about myself while doing so. I said thank you to the spirits of Joan and Shaw for the gift of their lives and work and the opportunity to express their thoughts, actions, and words through my body.
We had a great time hanging out at the BBQ and trying to enjoy each other for the last time. We played a game at the end of the night that involved drawing cards with people, places, or things on them. I happened to draw a card with Joan of Arc on it, which everyone thought was the best thing ever. When I got home that night I cried my eyes out. In a way I was ready to move on because the production and some of the working conditions were completely exhausting. But I’d been with the cast and director for a long time and it was a very difficult project to let go of. It’s hard to imagine another role that will compare with Joan.
On Wednesday I had a great acting class and in one of my scenes I was rifling through a box of books that I was supposed to be packing up during the scene. Tony told me to stop for a second at the top of the scene and to pull out a book and think about what it meant to me before packing it and continuing with my lines. I grabbed a book without looking and it happened to be an old edition of Saint Joan. I couldn’t stop grinning. I’m sure Joan will be with me for the rest of my life. There is a line in the play that says, “She gives us courage.” That’s how I feel too. Playing Joan has changed me and helped me discover new aspects of myself. I’m sure this role will prove to have been incredibly instrumental in my personal evolution.