Joyce Cohen On Working As An Actor In EXPOSED

I have been looking forward to the beginning of rehearsals since last Spring when I participated in the public reading. This piece is so important. It feels like one which should be heard everywhere. Rehearsals are exciting. Both Mary and Jerry are open to our questions and suggestions. Because each of them have a clear and powerful vision of the play, l know hat we are all working toward the same goal. There is stunning information to impart and the trick is to deliver it dramatically. The goal is how best to honor that. My mind is working overtime! Sleep is not coming easily.

I always read at bedtime and I decided early on that I would NOT take my research to bed – I thought the subject matter would be too disturbing. But, as synchronicity would have it, the other night I began to read ESSAYS BY E.B.WHITE and I came upon a piece he had written in the 50s about testing and fallout. A couple excerpts:

“Human beings have always been willing to shed their blood for what they believed in. Yesterday this was clear and simple; we would pay in blood because, after the price was exacted, there was still a chance to make good the gain. But the modern price tag is not blood. Today our leaders and the leaders of our nation are, in effect, saying, ‘We will defend our beliefs not alone with our blood – by God we’ll defend them, if we have to, with our genes.’…I admire the spirit of it, but the logic eludes me. I doubt whether any noble principle – or any ignoble principle, either, for that matter – can be preserved at the price of genetic disintegration.”

“The rich brown patch of ground used to bring delight to eye and mind at this fresh season of promise. For me the scene has been spoiled by the maggots that work in the mind. Tomorrow we will have rain, and the rain falling on the garden will carry its cargo of debris from old explosions in distant places. Whether the amount of this freight is great or small, whether it is measurable by the farmer or can only be guessed at, one thing is certain: the character of rain has changed, the joy of watching it soak the waiting earth has been diminished, and the whole meaning and worth of gardens has been brought into question.” (from SOOTFALL AND FALLOUT – 1956)

This writer (CHARLOTTE’S WEB, essays for THE NEW YORKER magazine, poetry, etc.) who lived and worked on the east coast(!), was writing eloquently about the dire consequences of atomic testing in the 50s. Discovering that essay was a lovely gift. But, truth be told, this ‘coincidence’ is not a surprise. This happens to me whenever I’m working on a play. Poetry, music, literature…one or all of those forms with messages about the subject I am immersed in ALWAYS find their way to me. And, believe me, it’s a blessing for which I am deeply grateful.

The play is staged now – it has a rough shape. The first week is done and sleep is proving to be ever more elusive…

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