Friday, January 09, 2009

Caution: Humans are fragile

Not long ago I wrote another post about injured actors, so this one will be brief. We had our first on-the-job-injury last night. Those of you who know who's in the cast can probably guess who it was. (I'll give you a hint: his name starts with "Jim".)

It's a disheartening feeling to watch a fellow company member get hurt, for a multitude of obvious and less obvious reasons. In the worst of ways, it interrupts the work - at our most humanly compassionate moment, we feel horror for our coworker and want to help. In a small, selfish place, we wish it hadn't happened so that we don't have to deal with it. That's fleeting. Of course it is. But there's a little part of it, for a moment, the flickering whisper of our primal selves that used to leave the injured behind. We overcome it so instantly it's as if it never happened, but it's there. It's the same part of us that won't take twenty seconds to dig out a dollar for the Salvation Army Bell ringers. It doesn't make us bad people. It just makes us uncomfortable.

We just want life to be smooth. We want everything to go according to Plan. (Having recently watched 'The Dark Knight' I can appreciate this quality of normalcy even more). And we certainly don't want anyone to get hurt, especially someone we care about - not only for their pain, but our own. It's the same principle as stepping on someone's toe. Usually the offender feels worse than the person upon whose toe they actually stepped, and they end up comforting them. A person who gets injured on the job is the one who feels it most keenly - the person who should worry more about healing has all the same feelings about messing up the Plan and being a burden. That's in general. There are other kinds of people; different kind of reaction that I won't go into here.

The funny thing is how we live to create drama on the stage. We crave it, and relish it when we have the chance to watch or get our hands in it - because it's clean, but savory. Like reading a book or watching a movie. In the end, no matter how risky, daring, violent or racy or sad your project is, there's distance. No matter how someone felt about it, they felt it all in a secondary place, a carthartic place that lets us go through all the trouble and still walk out of the theatre without bleeding. That's the Plan.

Maybe that's why it's doubly upsetting when our pretend world brings someone to harm.

He'll be just fine, by the way.


LIZZIE said...

Very well said Jess. Love your writing.

Lauren said...

Alan told me "I'll give you one guess who got hurt and had to go to the hospital this evening." And I said, "OH no! What did Jim do? Is he ok???" lol...poor Jim. Glad he'll be alright. Please Jess...please make sure he comes back in one piece. And for the love of all that is good, don't let him drive!!!