- Life exists in each of us in a tangible form, the essence of how we are, beyond the physical body.
- Love is when our essence becomes entwined, each an equal half of the other
- There is a Dance, a Dance that one day each and every one of us will Dance.
- There is an infinite beauty and dignity to be experienced when one must Dance with the person they love most in the world
A radical transformation in my life emerged four years ago when I decided to take the step of completing a story I had started to write as part of my theater exercises with Artistic New Directions. “Tell a story, write it down and then perform it.” That was exercise that Jeffrey Sweet and Gary Austin, two of my teachers were suggesting we do. My first attempts were feeble. And then something happened, I started to write the story of my life – the story of how I confronted the near loss of my wife to breast cancer.
The story poured out of me. The writing of it happened largely in two sessions, each on an airplane during a leg of a trans-Atlantic flight. I don’t even remember anything other than being bent over the small laptop typing away. Then the help of Gabrielle Maisels, my amazing dramaturg and coach. A guiding, knowledgeable, gently hand that challenged me to thin, change and move forward. The readings that followed, especially in class with Carol Fox Prescott, the amazing acting teacher and coach who has taught me so much.
The experience of this journey from has taught me the power of the help and dedication of others. Perhaps this is true of all theater and perhaps of all of life, we don’t build our own future, we are gifted the opportunities offered by the work and dedication of others. Yet there was something very special about how much others have dedicated themselves to the development and continued evolution of The Actual Dance. Jessie and Jon Roberts the first director and sound designer. Kate Holland the current director. The support from all those at Artistic New Directions and their larger family. All those who have helped out financially to develop this work. They are listed on our web site. A special note of the importance of the support and generosity of Robert Chase and the folks at Intersections and the Collegiate Churches of New York. They have nurtured this and have encouraged me to see what was inside of me and to let it out. And to Gregory Johnson and the folks at EmblemHealth Corporation. They saw in the show something I did not at first understand – that it was a show about the Family Caregiver. (Confession, before meeting Greg and I didn’t even know the phrase!)
So many amazing people have made this small journey so deep and so meaningful.
And of course Susan Meryl Kalmans Simon. She has made me alive and her love is the core of this story. Of in fact “Our Story” – you can watch a video by that name here.
And now – on Monday, June 20th, just four years later – a landmark step: The Actual Dance, with Chuk Obasi. The show moves beyond me into the world as theater to be performed by others. And in this instance by an African American actor who will tell this story through different eyes and in a way that will I hope connect to the hearts and souls of a much broader audience. There is still room to attend, click here to reserve a spot!
I will also be offering an Anniversary Performance on the 20th in McLean, Virginia at the McLean Community Center where I did one of the very early public readings of the show. You can click here to attend that performance.
There is language – a vocabulary – which I don’t yet have to explain the power of The Actual Dance experience on the audiences that have seen it. In four years there have been about 110 performances. About 3000 people have seen the show. What changes me the most is what I hear from those who have seen it. The individual stories and whispers in my ears. “Sam, I went through the same thing. I thought I was nuts, I have never shared it with anyone. Thank you.” The tears in the woman who walks up to me, crying saying “I have never said this out loud before, but I too had the experience with my mother.”
My favorite gift, so far, is from the gentleman who walked up to me alongside his wife on the streets of Indianapolis and said:
“I saw your show Thursday night and I just wanted to thank you and to tell you that how I related to my wife has been changed forever. Thank you.”
I thank him, I thank all those who have created for me the opportunity and the capacity to change the world by telling a story about what love and life really means.
My mission statement for this work has been and continues to be that The Actual Dance be performed so that all those who “need to see it have the opportunity to do so.” You bless me and support me in this mission by attending and spreading the word to those who you know need to see this story.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.