23 August, 2015

A letter to Henry

Hi. Just writing to say thrilled to hear your doing Tzeitel in New York. I'm planning to see it ... When do u open ? What an insight you will have to bring to a new (but ever present) Anatevka! Much joy.

So pleased you are thriving ... 
I'm on the platform with you x

Henry G

*

Wonderful wonderful Henry,

What a total joy to hear from you—and of course you have been on my mind constantly. I so apologize for the delay in responding, your email has been sitting in my inbox with a little “Flag” on it since it arrived, and I don’t think there is anything I procrastinate more than electronic communication.

This Fiddler journey has been a magical one—and I have barely begun this new chapter! Our Anatevka journey with that particular company was so thorough, so detailed and passionate an exploration, it truly taught me how to be an artistic actor in the professional realm. But above all, it holds so many endemic memories—those people are still my favourite colleagues, some of closest friends, and it gave me a true community and family so (pardon the expression) “far from the home I love.” It will never fade for me.

I remember you once told me—this memory truly stands out like a stark, clear diamond in the haze of remembered past—you told me that those truly rare and perfect moments shared on stage didn’t happen as often as one hoped, or anticipated, but when they do… they are “like gold dust.” You were referring to our train station scene, and I almost couldn’t speak I was so honoured and moved. The gold dust part was so vivid— and so exactly correct. I’ve never forgotten it. ...And it turns out, a few years down the line and 10 years (?!) in the acting world now, you were quite right. In my career thus far I think I can count two stage relationships like that, of which you were the first. Thank you.

I think it’s also taken a good deal of reflection to realize that Hodel helped me grieve about my fatherhelped me say goodbye, every day. And not in an indulgent way, but in a way that made me uniquely qualified to feel the magnitude of that scene so early in my life. Hodel was the first character I ever “missed” when we parted company—like a friend who stopped calling all of a sudden. I suppose that was what led me to Siberia, and to write the books, I needed to play her story out somehow.

And I have.

When I first heard about this Broadway revival, I naturally wanted to be some kind of a part of it—it is the 50th anniversary, we are so blessed to still have Sheldon with us, and it is such an important show to me, to us, to the entire world, etc. But I heard they were looking to cast the daughters as actual teenagers, and while I understood, I was a little sad. I was called in on the last two days of auditions (I had actually been out of town playing Eliza Doolittle with Anthony Andrews wouldn’t ya know?) and from there it was all a whirlwind!

Reading through the script again, and viewing the piece objectively, one thing was certain: I wasn’t Hodel anymore. I have told and lived her story and now it is someone else’s turn. And frankly, I wouldn’t want to wait at the train station with anyone other than you… I’m aware that that probably sounds like American sentimentality, but ah well. I’m American after all and as I grow up I’ve learned to stop apologising for things we can’t change. :)

You know, a few months ago I went to a very good friend’s wedding, and as she walked down the aisle, I burst into almost unconscious tears. She was beautiful of course, but she was also walking down the aisle with her father—and I suppose my subconscious recognised that no matter what I ever do, achieve, or build, that moment cannot be purchased or won or fought for. I will never have it. Ever.

...But now? Now, I will have it. By proxy, on stage... isn't that one of the beautiful things about fate, (and, of course) about the theatre? We have the blessed opportunity to experience so much more of life and humanity in one lifetime. What a gift. 

And as I grow up, and my focus shifts much more to lasting relationships such as marriage, as well as family, children, true love and the meanings of community and faith—I realize that all these things  make me uniquely qualified to serve Tzeitel’s story now—and endeavour to serve her I shall, with every scrap of depth, integrity, artistry and richness I can muster. I hope there is gold dust in that oath... well, 'we shall leave it in His hands.'

Goodness—this did become a proper letter!

I am headed to London on Thursday. It would be so wonderful to see and hug you again. Until I do, I’m sending you all my love. 

Al

x

PS) I'm on the platform with you too. Always.

7 comments:

  1. Omg I just read that article and am in tears it's so beautiful and so true. I love the part where you say we get to experience so much more in a lifetime and how lucky we are and it makes me so grateful. Omg I needed this! Thank you so much! πŸ’•All I've ever wanted was take such a negative thing and use it to motivate me and make me work harder because of it. To make light of a terrible thing, i think it's exactly what our parents would have wanted and that's why you are so inspiring to me. That's exactly what you did and i just admire that about you so much. Such a powerful article. xx

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  2. Your blog post is BEAUTIFUL. I read it three times from start to finish. I pray that someday I'll have a "gold dust" moment like you had. ❤️
    P.S. Your writing is an actual gift to the world.

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  3. What a special exchange How wonderful to have the chance to write about your experience to someone so fatherly and powerful in your life. I love you so much!! So so much!! πŸ‘°πŸ»πŸ‘°πŸΌ forever.

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  4. Amazing!!

    Ugh,,, yes you are so SO right in your blog letter.. I've learned to believe that characters come into our lives at the right time when we are able to serve them to our greatest ability! And yes, I was thinking about that too.. You have moved on from Hodel's story. And now you get to walk with your father down the aisle like you always dreamed of doing. That is so special. Art is Is so healing!! Xx

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  5. "...But now? Now, I will have it. By proxy, on stage... isn't that one of the beautiful things about fate, (and, of course) about the theatre? We have the blessed opportunity to experience so much more of life and humanity in one lifetime. What a gift.

    And as I grow up, and my focus shifts much more to lasting relationships such as marriage, as well as family, children, true love and the meanings of community and faith——I realize that all these things make me uniquely qualified to serve Tzeitel’s story now——and endeavour to serve her I shall"


    That paragraph GOT me!! And the rest of your response got me!! Al, that was so awesome to read. You have such an open heart... So blessed to have crossed paths πŸ’•

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  6. So inspiring. Thank you for this. Thank you.

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  7. I've been somewhat silent on your blog as I've been in and out - but oh how beautiful this is and how poignant your journey is with Fiddler! Thank you for always being so open with your life experiences - they are inspirational and help me reflect on my own life.

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