So many people come up to me after performances of My Stroke of Luck commenting, “You are one brave woman,” or “How courageous to share your story.”
But I defer. Sharing my story, performing my show isn’t brave. Yes, I stand in front of an audience of strangers and tell my true, personal story of medical catastrophe and recovery. I share deeply personal feelings, private moments, experiences and a little piece of my soul. And yes, it took four years of writing, deep diving, workshopping and performing to have a show audience ready. But compared to the long, hard struggle of recovery, discovering and adjusting to my new post stroke self, sharing my story through performance is truly the easy part.
So what is courage? Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Courage is not allowing fear to stop you. Feeling the fear and moving forward in spite of it. The courage in my story is behind me: it was asking every morning what that cold, white thing in front of the mirror was -answer: a basin - then repeating basin, basin, basin, knowing full well that I’d have to ask again tomorrow. Courage was going back to rehab day after day, though some days I would make no discernible progress at all. Courage was sitting at the computer remediation station, reduced to tears because I couldn’t match objects I saw face on with their profiles, then wiping away the tears and trying again. It was holding my head when all the single addition number problems were too much, then getting a cold cloth, wiping my face and neck, and starting over. It was working the Adventure Inlay Puzzle again and again, each time hoping to put one more piece in the puzzle before the timer buzzed. It was trying to understand my children, and trying to make myself understood. Because I wanted to recover, and knew only my best effort was good enough. My survival and that of my children was at stake.
So performing is so much easier. Sure, I can and do muff a line or two. Blow a moment or two. But really, what’s the worst that can happen? I bore you, embarrass myself and you want your money back. Performing my show feels like the reward after all the struggles. I get to a share a few laughs, a few tears, a few cautionary bits, lots of lessons learned, and ultimately, our triumphs. As my accountant said, “You got lemons, but you didn’t make lemonade, you made lemon cream pie.” And I get to share it with you.
Every time I see a line at the door, or watch the audience file in, or glimpse the faces in the front row (about the only ones clearly visible in the stage lights), I am filled with gratitude, wonder and a sense of adventure.
Thank you for coming. Thank you.
United Solo Theater Festival http://unitedsolo.org/us/ufest/ United Solo
Theatre Row 410 W 42nd St. New York City
Sunday September 24, 4 PM
Friday September 29, 9PM
Tickets: box office sold out, tickets on my website contact page https://www.dianebarnes415.com/
Atlanta Black Theater Festival
Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center 3181 Rainbow Drive, Decatur, GA
October 7, 4 PM