Godsend (and therapy)
After rehearsing a particularly emotionally tough scene from “Fun Home,” I sat outside our rehearsal space, in a bit of a daze. Our assistant director Jamie Wilson then came out, heading to get some coffee. As he passed by, I said, “We are going to need therapy after this.” He happily countered with, “No, we won’t. This is our therapy. We get to work through our issues, and take the audience along with us, helping them through their own.”
Oo nga ano! How fortunate we are, therefore, that we get a play like this one.
Every once in a long while, a show will fall into an actor’s lap, perhaps by providence or fate, that will serve to help him or her exorcise their demons, work through issues, or provide much needed catharsis.
The show doesn’t have to be anything heavy (like a Chekhov or Ibsen play), but there will be elements within that will ring more true to that one actor than to anyone else in the company. It could be a slapstick comedy, an old-fashioned musical, or a farce. Something in there will strike the actor as way too close to home. Almost uncomfortably so.
Many years ago, this happened to me. I was doing a show where my character was going through relationship issues. The funny thing was, my own life was, in a weird way, mirroring what was happening onstage in its messiness and drama. Doing the show served as a means of escape, a safe place to work things out. I looked forward to going to work every night, just for the comfort of the show, the camaraderie with the rest of the company, and being able to be someone else for a few hours.
Which brings me to “Fun Home.” This is a roller coaster that we have all willingly strapped ourselves into.
As our rehearsal period continued through the process of figuring out what was going on, there were truths within the script and the story that rang true. Perhaps it was being able to relate to the Bechdel family’s brand of dysfunction that sent us over the edge, or reliving a vivid and painful memory of our own.
Getting through songs felt more like a climb to the top of Mount Everest than a navigation of lyrics and melody. That’s the gift of a piece like this one.
I can’t speak for anyone else in the cast, but I can say this show is a godsend.
There were things I needed to work through on my own, at this particular time, things that I don’t talk to anyone else about. But I have this show, and a talented company with whom to play, and music and lyrics and a script that are so bracing in their honesty and breathtaking in its beauty.
This is therapy, in all its ugly, hysterical, incredible wonderment. Thank goodness for it.
“Fun Home,” presented by Atlantis Theatrical, will open at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City on Nov. 10, and will run until Nov. 27.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.