With the show going up this Friday, last week was our move into the theater, and it meant many late nights. Wednesday night, in fact, I didn't get to bed until three, and then had to wake up to six to get Ashes to school. Even during a rehearsal, the duties kid duties don't end!
That Thursday night, I was exhausted, but pleased with many things, including the way the set was coming together, some of the fun props that were being brought in (such as a bear-claw bathttub for Mr. Whitney to bathe in), and the projections that I'm using during the show. Oh, and the orchestra, which sounded wonderful.
Only one major flaw: the infamous "marriage" line. Come Thursday, one of the more homophobic members was actually hissing and making faces every time it was said, and the Captain, who was delivering the line, was visibly shaken, and couldn't even recite it properly.
So, I did the best thing, given the situation: I cut the line. It would be one thing if it were just a few people, but since my goal was to bring people together, not divide them, and since divisions were starting to show, and badly, I had to be the bigger person, and make the cut. If it had been essential to the plot, that'd be one thing, but it was just a dumb joke.
About five minutes after announcing it to the cast as part of my Friday notes, I received the following message from the same exact person who had been hissing the night before:
Ted, this is just a Thank You.
Not some glamorous email with accolades. Not some pat on the back with a way to go. Just a Thank you.
It is not said enough when you have someone that is always trying his hardest to make things right. I see you dedication, your intricate attention to detail, your desire to mold a bunch of engineers, accountants, nurses, teachers, laborers into a cohesive group. What a task you have been given and you do it well.
You have made our group better by your being part of it.
So Thank You, Ted.
I had to write back. I probably shouldn't have, but I just had to. The motivation behind it was just way too obvious.
I'm just sending this to you, and you alone, and I'm not going to make a big deal out of it. I wish you taken a moment to talk to me about your concerns about the gay wedding line, rather than making comments on stage last night, which were evident. Several people commented to me about them after rehearsal.
For the sake of group unity, I decided to cut the line, because my goal for this show--my only goal--was to bring people together and get them excited about this group, which can help us grow as an organization in the future. I did it because I love the group and thought that people respected what I bring to the group. I've always been trying to bring people together, not divide them. And I don't think anyone can deny that I've worked really hard these past six months.
What really bothers me is that no one has articulated what was so offensive about the line. I mean, we're making fun of Chinese people and their accents, for God's sake. That isn't even possibly offensive, it is offensive. The line inserted didn't advocate one side or the other, it was just poking fun at a current social situation. And it wasn't even written by me, it was written by Ted Stewbin.
But the fact that people couldn't approach me, and had to resort to other methods, really has shaken my faith in this organization. And in how people regard me.
I'm not going to make any decisions now, because that would be foolish and shooting from the hip. But it does make me question whether I wish to continue as an active Board member and director within this group. I've worked really hard to take the time to recognize so many people for all that they've contributed to the group, even going so far as to work in a section at the start of the show recognizing Ida Mae for all her years of dedication. That I can't get the same respect from people that I've worked so hard for for five years is a shame, and indicates to me that it's never going to change.
Anyway, I've rambled on long enough. Thanks for writing to me, and I hope to keep being involved with organizations such as this one for many years to come.
To which, I received the following reply:
You are correct, I was wrong.
I should never have made any indication of an acceptance or not, of any line, movement or changes you have done. I am not qualified to do so and I strongly apologize.
You are correct that there are several areas that this show could be taken as offensive. I should have kept to myself or I should have gone to you directly if I had had an issue with anything you did.
I know from past experience the dedication and passion you have for our group is well beyond what anyone could have ever hoped for or expected. I am greatful that you are in the group. I do not say that lightly for this is a group that I have strong feelings for. For the better of the group I would resign from the board rather than see you leave due to an improper action on my part.
I regret my action. It was improper. I was wrong.
Please do not look at this as an action of the Singers, it was not. It was of me alone.
I mean, I guess. It still doesn't erase what happened. And it's probably easy to say, now that you've gotten your way, right?
Fortunately, at this dramatic point in the narrative, God handed me a gift. Or, more appropriately, a mistake. Corb, whose car was totaled because of the car accident (I was going to write all about this in an unwritten NoCompromises narrative called "Fear and Loathing at the Happiest Place on earth," but just didn't get the time), borrowed my 'stang, because I was working out of the apartment on friday.
And with it, he took my laptop, which meant I couldn't work at all.
So, I slept until one in the afternoon. it was a nice intro to Memorial day week-end. All I'm going to do is to take it easy...oh, and wrap up a few play-related items. Oh, and help to find Corb a car. We think we have one picked out, too...a Honda Accord.
I'm just focusing on getting the play up to speed this week. The elimination of the line was a tough blow, but I'm upset more for what it represents than what it actually added to the show.
And maybe, after five years for this group, that tells me all I need to know. I've been asked to sign on to the Board again, and probably will get asked to direct next year's show. But some things are never going to change, and they're always going to linger, just under the surface.
I don't want that for my family. Nobody should. We deserve better, and there are certainly other organizations out there that would welcome our participation. So, barring a miracle--and I'm not sure exactly what type of miracle that would be, I'm just going to keep quiet about the whole thing until the show's over, and then, as quietly as it's possible for me to be, move on to other things.