Life is all about making choices. Infact every step we take, no matter how trivial or how eminent, consciously or unconsciously we are making choices.
Some of them are obvious and some rather difficult and unexpected. We surprise ourselves at times – as if we did not expect ourselves to be capable of making them. Sometimes, these choices stagger us because this is not what we expected.
I’ve being doing some theatre for quite some time now. Nothing major, small roles in plays which run in the theatre district of Boston. The stage always gives me an inexplicable “high”, a great sense of satisfaction and boundless joy. I had to make a rather difficult choice yesterday.
I auditioned for a play recently and I absolutely loved the lead character in the play. The play is based on this girl who has a crumbling family, string of affairs with the wrong guys, anger management issues, a drinking problem, an abortion, a child with her therapist... and around all these issues – she’s actually trying to explore her actual self. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? I fell in love with the character the moment I read the script for the range of emotions and the varied arc she portrays. So obviously I desperately wanted a role in the play and more importantly, the lead.
Guess how unbelievably jubilant I would have been, when I received an email from the director that I actually bagged the role. It said a lot and moreover meant a lot.
So, rehearsals began and I was enjoying being the lead and in every single scene. Talking about scenes, some of the scenes was …ummm... sort of … R-Rated …lets just say that. My director and I had talked about these scenes and we had come to agreement that these scenes would be done such that they were in my comfort zone. We were three days into rehearsals and it was time to get into “those scenes”. As we were reading our lines and playing with the scenes – it turns out, I wasn’t comfortable. The comfort zone which I was supposed to work around with apparently did not exist.
The director came up with a few compromises on the script to accommodate my discomfort. But now the compromises were making here uncomfortable.
I understood, that as a director, she must have had some character – some scene in mind. I dint want her to compromise on that. So, I confronted her, told her that it’ll be okay if she wants to reconsider her casting decision.
She couldn’t quite understand the reason for my reservations. She insisted that it was only acting.It was only theatre. It was only stage intimacy. But, then, each person is different and we have different limits for different things. I tried to tell her that may be it’s got something to do with where I come from or may be it’s a cultural thing. But I knew, it has got nothing to do with anything else – its just who I am. Some limits cannot be justified or explained and for that matter – need not be.
She wanted me us to work around the scenes and try to explore our comfort levels of compromise and meet somewhere in between. But the truth is – there was no between that could become my comfort zone. I had to choose between finding a way to “act” out the scenes or give up the character that I loved and started getting into. I had a choice to make and a choice I made. A choice to not compromise and a choice to turn down the role.
Now I play another character in the show. It breaks my heart each time I rehearse for the show. My mom reckoned me that this was after all my decision, after all a choice I made. My dad counseled me – the way I did not compromise in this play – I should never compromise in my life.