Friday, January 12, 2007

How A Few Words Can Change Everything

This post probably won't mean very much to people who haven't seen The Big Voice, but last night something happened that was totally unexpected. First of all, we had a wonderfully responsive audience. There's nothing like doing a show where everyone is totally into it, laughing at all the punchlines and throwing energy up to the stage. (It's the quiet matinees where an older crowd is studying you rather than jumping into the fray that drive me a bit nuts).

So, last night, I found a key to a song that has been troubling me from day one. It was precipitated by the fact that Mike Jones, the man who outed Ted Haggard (the closeted anti-gay evangelical minister who was seeing male hustlers while denouncing gay marriage) in the last election, is coming to see the show on Sunday night. Mike and I have been emailing back and forth. (Really sweet guy.)

I told him that I really appreciated what he did, putting his reputation and livelihood on the line to fight the good fight, and that, if things had turned out differently, *I* could have been Ted Haggard -- married, gay, looking for sex on the side, preaching from a pulpit.

In Big Voice, at the end of the play, we describe a scene with an anti-gay protester. Then, after a bit of a comical confrontation, I sing "Sower and Scarecrow." For some reason, getting into that song has been troubling me from Day One. I've always believed in the song, and believe very strongly in its message. But the transition into it always felt awkward, like something was missing.

Then, a couple of nights ago, after my email exchange with Mike, it hit me right between the eyes. A line a dialogue. Just a few words. I didn't say them at the time because I wanted to consult with Jim first. The next day, I told him what I wanted to say and he said, "Try it."

So, I got to that point, where I look over at "my old roommate" standing there holding a protest sign -- "Lesbians Are Satan's Whores" -- and I said, "I suddenly realized, that could have been me..."

Boom. All this emotion of sadness (for him), relief (for me) and just plain realization came welling up from within and suddenly it was a brand new song. I sang it differently. I played it differently. I felt it differently. And, for the first time, I really felt the audience totally connect. It was no longer a sermon delivered to someone "out there," but an illumination of what could have been. (I think it also helped move the audience, too, because we got two curtain calls last night).

Later, after the show, we were out with friends, and I told Amy, "I wonder if being gay is what saved me from that life?" If I hadn't been given this gift of my own sexual orientation, I might have been some variation on that guy. Maybe not with the signs, but who knows?
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