You know that moment when you meet somebody for the first time? Polite small talk, awkward silences, hesitant smiles. And when that person you meet for the first time is your father? This is the situation in which Carol finds herself. She sees her father for the first time, with grown-up eyes. What does he look like? Is it the father she remembers from her childhood? What is he like? How do you start to establish a relationship with him?
It certainly isn’t an easy task for Carol. In this play Carol is not a person of many words, but her silences are even more powerful. As she listens to Bernie unfold his life story, she is observing the man sitting in front of her. She is determined to get to know him and is trying to read between the lines. What is Bernie really saying with his stories? These stories and words evoke different emotions in her and as she listens to him, she comes to understand how his choices have also affected her life.
At the rehearsals I’ve also been trying to listen to Carol and read between her lines, so to say. As I’ve become more familiar with the play, I’ve been able to fine tune into Carol’s emotional settings. Her life seems straightforward and uncomplicated on the onset, but as the play progresses, she delves deeper into her childhood memories and how they have affected her life. She presents herself not so much with words, but with expressions and emotional nuances, and this is where the challenge comes from. And what she does say has certain poignancy to it. The words themselves are easy, but when you add emotion behind those words, it changes everything.
We all have baggage from the past, some more, some less. Nobody is perfect. We would like things to be perfect, but in life they rarely are. I can recognize that trait in Carol, and in myself. The secret is learning to accept ourselves for what we are and then we can be more forgiving to others too.