March 18th, 2014


Acting and Truth

To doubt is human; faith requires effort that, most often, we as mere
mortals fail to muster. And yet it is that faith, that hope which provides
the sustenance we require, the rational we must entertain to avoid simply
resigning in defeat. And when our life's choices call upon us to confront
our doubts head-on, how often do we shrink away?

As such, I sympathize with St. Thomas the Doubter, whose manifest
apprehension at hearing of the empty tomb on Easter Morning is not only
profoundly natural, but also completely expected.

When my stake announced that they were putting on a presentation of Savior of the
, I went to the audition at the personal request of my friends,
several of whom were semi-professional singers. Having just started vocal
lessons, I confess that I was a bit apprehensive about the whole "singing
alone in front of several hundred people" part, and even more so about the
acting. Coming from a school that had only one major in the arts, (versus
thirty in the physical sciences and engineering disciplines), suffice it to
say that the closest I ever came to public performance in such a situation
was standing in front of the company formation before breakfast.
Nevertheless, I managed to impress the director, and on the spot, was
awarded the part of Thomas.

The scene, occurring as it is written in scripture, concerns itself
primarily with the events of Holy Week; Thomas's role primarily features
his skepticism and dismay that everyone else has seen miracles, but he is
left alone - a witness to everyone else's joy but not a participant
himself. The Aria ("Except I Shall See") is dejected, distrustful,
mournful in the first part; resigned but loyal in the second; and finally,
with the revelation and personal visitation, exuberant at the end, his
meager attempts at faith at last rewarded.

In that vein, as I attempt to portray all the tumultuous emotions -
loyalty, fear, faith, doubt - I find them clashing against the beliefs I
have about myself, my life, my future. The faith ("everything will work
out") against the fear and doubt ("why me?", "do I deserve this, and if so,
what did I do wrong?"). It leaves me a near-wreck at the end of each
rehearsal, and at times, I don't know how much more I have left to give.

Here is the truism that seems to manifest itself: fear, doubt - they are
natural. They are even expected at times. Yet they are raging storms,
thrashing against that dwindling particle of hope cowering under flimsy
cover. They threaten to consume me at times, ever tempting with the
siren's call: "Just give up, you can't win this one. You have already
lost. Ahead only lies rejection, dejection, and humiliation; you well know
this, as broken promises litter your memories."

In these times, peace is elusive.

And yet, I still have moments of peace. I still see the possibilities, the
remnants of goodness in human nature. I see what I hope for, and sometimes
that is enough to get me through another restless night. There are people
I can still trust.

There is hope. And there may yet come the day when I will hear the words,
"Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."