So I finally got the video from our performance of The Crucible last night. I’ll be honest, I fast-forwarded to my parts: I really wanted to see what I did right and what I did wrong.
I have a tendency to be over-critical of myself. Not horribly so, but I forgive other people of almost everything, and I don’t really forgive myself for all that much. And on our first performance (which was recorded), I did make a few mistakes. So as I watch, I’m constantly thinking to myself “you’re too stiff here,” and “you came in too early,” and “you mixed up those lines.” At one point I had to remind myself that this was my first time in front of an audience in over six years.
And then I get to act 4. And then I get to one particular line. A lot of you know this line. It’s my favorite line from the play, and the one that got me to understand and really enjoy the role of Reverend Hale. It’s a line that, if you should find me several decades into the future lying on my death bed, and if you should ask me what my favorite line from The Crucible is, I will look to you, hold my index finger back with my thumb, point with my remaining three fingers, and recite for you this line with all the emotion my frail, old body will be able to muster. It’s also my ringtone.
“There are orphans wandering from house to house, abandoned cattle bellow on the high roads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlot’s cry will end his life. And you wonder yet if rebellion is spoke? Better you should marvel they do not burn your province”
And suddenly, as far as I’m concerned, I had a perfect performance. All my small mistakes, my stutters, my interrupting of other lines, my running over of people who interrupted me when I probably should have just let them cut me off, everything that I did which was less than perfect became erased when I saw myself deliver this line. It was exactly how I wanted to look, exactly how I wanted to sound, and just exactly how I wanted it to be.
Someone who was, erm, rather intimately involved in the play used the term “a Hale of no regrets” to describe my performance. It’s hard to agree with “no regrets,” but whatever regrets I do have with my performance, they’re really not important.
After all, there are orphans wandering from house to house.