Monday, January 7, 2008

The Busy World is Hushed - Blog 1 - David Dickinson

This entry is one in a series of five by actor David Dickinson - playing Thomas in Actors Theatre's The Busy World is Hushed.

Being a PK
Most every play I perform in I am able to pull things from my past, but Thomas hit very close to home for me as a character. I share a lot with him, but most especially my experience as a preacher’s kid or “PK.” Just like Thomas, I grew up with parents who read me bible stories. In fact my favorite story was of David and Goliath. I had this little picture book and I can still see the picture of the Philistine giant with the stone in his forehead and David with his sling standing over him. I thought it was just so cool that I was named David too. In the play Thomas says that his mother had him convinced he was the second coming of Christ. I know the feeling. My mother named me David after the king and James, my middle name, after King James of England who had the bible translated into English. At least that’s what I always thought: maybe that’s one of my own myths! Anyway, I guess that everyone’s parents try to make their children feel special. But the feeling of being connected somehow exclusively to a figure in the bible (and especially Christ) is so seductive for a child and a parent. All of us are searching for meaning in our lives and I think that Hannah’s desire to make Thomas her personal savior is a way for her to connect to God. And as a child, being told that you are more special because of knowledge you are given or a spiritual connection to God from your birth is seductive for a young mind because it feels so good and comforting. It also makes you feel different and set apart. In my experience, in this type of a situation religion is twisted so that instead of connecting humans together, it creates that idea of loneliness and separation.

Hannah embraces the idea of loneliness seeing it as a blessing. I have seen that separation in my own life, and I think this is part of the larger conflict between Thomas and Hannah. Thomas has been away from this perspective long enough and is now old enough to form an outside opinion about life. He believes that meaning is here and now: life is to be experienced, in the woods and in the city. Hannah keeps talking about that distant shore as if “real” life is there and not here on earth. Instead earth is only a place for being burnished in pain. From my experience, when a child tries to change the belief of a parent, things usually don’t go so well… I don’t want to ruin any surprises, but Thomas has an uphill battle coming home and he knows it.

1 comment:

Greta Huls said...

My name is Greta Huls and I am the Communications Officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona ( The Rev. Canon Carmen Guerrero and I attended the opening of The Busy World is Hushed on Jan. 11 and we both enjoyed it immensely. It was funny, thought provoking, and timely. While I had no problems with anything I saw or heard, the Rev. Guerrero's husband was a bit startled to see two men kiss on-stage.

As usual when portraying the Episcopal church theatrically, there were two liturgical errors that we spotted. First, Hannah (played beautifully by Cathy Dresbach) refers to herself as an Episcopal minister, not priest. And when you see her vested for a funeral she is wearing a pale gray stole, which we as Episcopalians know doesn't exist. (But at least it wasn't the purple stole that I usually see on theatrically portrayed priests!)