The hospital just called and told me I have to arrive at 6:00 am on Monday to prepare for surgery. And that Surgery begins at 8:00 am. Suddenly this all is becoming REAL!!! Yikes!
So Early Monday morning it’s SHOWTIME! And I will be taking on the most challenging role of my lifetime. One that requires me to dig deep down and re-discover my Stanislavski method acting training that I learned in the late 1960’s where subtext and sensory imagery took my mind to other places so that I could draw upon all the courageous women who walked upon the stage before me. I need to use them now as my guides and my muses to become strong enough to endure this new role I must face.
When I was younger the part I always wanted to play was Lady Macbeth. I was told back in the days when I was still acting, that because I gave off a “virtuous” or “righteous” vibe, I was more suited for such roles as Juliet, Cordelia, or Ophelia etc. I was young and exuded way too much innocence to play the wicked Lady Macbeth. Sigh…
So sadly, I never got to jump into her murderous skin on stage. For years I thought that was the role of a lifetime and I missed it. Now I know there is a more difficult and important role that I must play. However, in the Lady’s defense,I never really saw her as evil per say, but rather easily corrupted and unscrupulous when the play begins…And yet Shakespeare’s character moved me to tears as well. (Especially the way Judy Dentch played her.)
I always thought my version of Lady M would transform her into goodness as she slowly descended into madness. In my mind, I would often see her represented as if she were walking down a grand staircase and by the time her character finally reached the bottom, she would have totally redeemed her soul and found virtue once again.( BTW, At fifty, I think I would have played an excellent Lady Macbeth and could have pulled her off to perfection. I am not quite sure why I am suddenly thinking about a role I always wanted to play but never had an opportunity to audition for. Perhaps, because her character was brave, even though she was dastardly. I just found her brilliantly written and never got to play her… oh well.
On Monday I want to draw from all the brave women written down in books, or in plays, and mostly in real life that I have met…. I want to capture their energy when I get to the hospital and go under the knife.
I have no idea what condition I will be in when I wake up. The Last time the cancer was too large and too plentiful to be removed. This time I am hoping my doctor can remove it all and that chemo shrunk all the tumors enough so that he can get them out of my body. That is why Lady Macbeth came to mind. She said… “Out out damn spot.” For me It is “Out Out, damn cancer!!!!!”
And so I am going to go on Monday and try to conjure up method acting skills from long ago when I used to transport myself to different places in my head when I was a young actress. Back then I donned my soft ballet slippers that would delicately glide across the stage and often I’d be wearing a long gown as I turned myself into someone else. Whether it was the fair Juliet, the pleading Cordelia, a tragic Ophelia, or a comedic character mimicking Judy Holiday, and even the extraordinary young Anne Frank, being dragged off by Nazis yet still believing that mankind was basically good.
Before I took my first step on stage I believed in myself enough to BECOME that character. On Monday I have to believe that I am strong enough to handle whatever happens. And so my costume this time will be a green hospital gown, not the soft flowing medieval garb a beautiful maiden might wear. And my hair won’t be braided and set with pearls or ribbons, I will be bald. But in my mind I will be playing the role of survivor. I got nervous each time I went on stage but the applause abated my butterflies. This time whatever they inject me will ease my nerves I suppose.
I must tell myself what always got me to take that first step through the curtain… “ YOU CAN DO THIS, LESLEY! YOU CAN DO THIS!”