There are certainly many people in life who we cross paths with that make a strong impression and perhaps lasting memories. We might think of those encounters and even tell family or close friends of a rewarding and fleeting experience. But because in most cases we are not even aware of the name of the one who lifted the mood or brought a laugh we never get to say thanks. It might also be the case that the person who impacted our life was not close enough to offer a verbal thanks. In my case, however, thanks to this blog space, I can offer my words about someone who simply brightened my life for several hours Sunday night.
James and I had tickets to see Sense and Sensibility at American Players Theatre in Spring Green. After a day that started cloudy and gray, sunshine and only a few puffy clouds ushered in showtime. The book by Jane Austen came to life with fast-moving scenes enabled by seamless set changes conducted by what was assumed to be the household staff. There has never been a performance from over the decades at APT that was not delightful.
But this year, for me, it was far more impactful. It was the first large public event we have attended since 2019, before the COVID pandemic. It was the performance from Sarah Day, with her sprightly and finely tuned delivery of lines in the role of the lovable Mrs. Jennings, (pictured in orange/rust-colored attire below) that made me aware, again, of why theater matters.
During the pandemic, this home struck close to CDC guidelines, and because James works with an aging population suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia in his guardianship business, and since we had no interest in becoming infected with potentially long-term consequences, we steered away from large gatherings. But with an outdoor setting that APT has so well created over many years, and with our expectations that later in the season a larger percentage of people would be vaccinated, we opted to attend a performance.
So, it may not be hard to understand why I was misty-eyed when Day first jauntily walked onto the stage and started her matchmaking of the unwed Dashwood daughters. I had so missed this type of entertainment, this sense of community from both those performing on a stage and the people who watch and participate in the moods of the actors and actresses. If theater allows us to know what it means to be human, and reflect a mirror on ourselves, then the absence of that in our lives certainly leaves an empty space. For the past few years, that part of me was inactive, but with Day’s wit and energy on stage over the course of the play, I was rejuvenated. The whole ensemble which was most splendid was clearly part of the tonic this soul needed.
During one conversation between two daughters center stage, Day comes to the aisle where I was seated and stayed in character as she looks downwards, into the audience. She sipped a glass of refreshment served in the play, mouthed words as if in conversation with another actor nearby her, and winces and uses her facial expressions to align with the dialogue of the women. Not for a moment was she not in character and that just completes the professionalism and thoroughness that allows the theatre to be such a rich experience for me.
Could I be in such a great mood this Monday morning had I attended any other theatre production Sunday night? I am sure I would be after the drought due to the pandemic and my love of theater. But the fact is it was APT and Sarah Day who were the lifters of the sails that make me write this post today. I simply need to say thanks.