The Cast of It's A Wonderful Life; A Live Radio Play
Last weekend I had the pleasure of performing the infamous role of the siren, Violet Bick (and others) in my theatre company's (Midtown Direct Rep) holiday production of It's a Wonderful Life; A Live Radio Play, by Joe Landry. (You can read a fellow blogger, Sarah Feder's, delightful response to the show here).
The show was a total treat to rehearse and perform. Because it was presented as a radio play in the 1940s, we got to wear terrific period costumes and dig into the classic Foley sound effects of that time. We had such fun! (My mom even flew in from Chicago and surprised me at the theatre!)
Me and My Mom!
However, as always in this business, the pleasure of the show itself played second fiddle to the good fortune of meeting and working with such totally lovely people.*
As a rule, actors are a focused group when put to task - but chatty as hell when given a ten. So, one morning, during a ten minute break from what was surely our total and complete disciplined attention, this group of lovely people and I began yapping away. Mid chit-chat, the fella playing Clarence the Angel (a wonderful actor named David Hess**) shared a story and video that I have not been able to put out of my mind.
Please note: Incredible things often come to light during actors' required ten minute breaks.
Turns out, David's nephew, Jared Stevens, is a triplet, a 7th grader in Tennessee, and a wrestler with debilitating Cerebral Palsy. David said, "you guys have to see this video." And now, I'm saying it to you.
You guys. You have to see this video.
For those of you without the time to watch right now (but seriously, do it later), the video depicts Jared's opponent, a 12 yr old boy from a neighboring school, allowing Jared to feel the pleasure of a wrestling match victory by positioning himself in a pin beneath Jared, who, though unable to move his own body, manages to flash the ear to ear smile of a champion when his win is announced.
It took my breath away. I don't know who deserves the most credit. Jared, for being brave and daring enough to dream outside of his wheelchair. His parents, for encouraging and allowing him to follow a dream that most would have deemed impossible. His opponent, Justin, whose good-natured spirit and soulful generosity trumped the predictable selfishness of being a 12 year old boy. Justin's parents, who raised such a boy. Or the coach, for creating a safe environment - physically and emotionally - for these young men to shape one and others' lives.
What a total feat of humanity.
To raise children who are brave enough to win when they know they cannot win on their own, and brave enough to lose when they know their loss will shape someone else's tomorrow ... well, that's it. That is parenthood. Courage and character, indeed.
*The lovely people of this company included Kelly Ruth Cole, Chris Cooley, Jeremy Dobrish, Michelle Federer, David Hess, Scott McGowan, & Will Reynolds.
** Thank you to David Hess for sharing his nephew's inspiring story.