Why The Theater: Jessica Richmond

Jessica RichmondBy Jessica Richmond

Scenic Carpentry/Technical Apprentice

(This blog post is part of a continued series created by our apprentices about why they love theater)

Everything about theater compels me — its immediacy, its intimacy, its relevance. Theater is so here, now, in the moment, real. I love its transient nature because it mimics my own ever-changing life.

This past fall I was a part of a devised play called On Common Ground. The play was a series of unrelated scenes about people and their connection to the earth. The scenes ranged from a clown sweeping footprints, to a mother losing her child, from Shakespeare, to Charles Mee. A large box of dirt was the set, in which the nine of us actors walked, rolled, and dug, barefoot. It was a visceral and intimate play, a play that will stay with me for as long as I can hold it. But as this play taught me, I cannot hold on to everything forever. The whole process of devising was letting go, having ideas and letting go, waiting for ones that stuck, ones that felt immediate. This idea of letting go was reinforced by the final scene. For the last scene, all of the actors recited the poem “One or Two Things” by Mary Oliver. The last stanza of poem, our final words of the play, read:

For years and years I struggled

just to love my life. And then

the butterfly

rose, weightless, in the wind.

“Don’t love your life

too much,” it said,

and vanished

into the world.

We as people do not have the capacity to hold on to everything, we have to let go. Each show closing is a letting go. Through the production process, the cast and crew create a story, a world, and memories that enrich and expand each other. I hold the memories that I can, and then move on to make more.

I love the conversations that theater opens, not only from watching a play, but from working on one or even dreaming one up. They bring people together, stir common experiences and shed light on difference. But the play is just a springboard. A conversation may start out about a character or a set piece, and from there it tumbles into anything and everything. Theater promotes laughter, openness, and learning.

The community theater fosters is also important to me. I love being with others, sharing work and stories. I like knowing I’m not in a vacuum, that others are there with me, and we all care deeply about the endeavor we are in. We are there for each other to share joys and carry burdens. Theater is not an art that can be done alone; it demands help and collaboration. This feeds me, it keeps me connected and grounded to the world around me.

Without theater, life would be a lot emptier. There would be less room for creating, thinking, conversing; there would be less of a reason to just be. Theater has produced so many good things for me, among all the stress and chaos and ambiguity, ultimately comes beauty.

Jessica Show

On Common Ground. Photo by Mark Spooner.

*GSC Blog posts are the select opinions of individual employees and may not necessarily reflect the views of Gloucester Stage as a whole.