Not Just Community Theatre

My beautiful, talented friend, Becca Stabno, wrote this heartfelt piece about our time in Women of Lockerbie presented by Summit Theatre Group. It was a wonderful show, full of talented people that I want to know all my life. Thanks for letting me post, Becca. You’re a terrific writer, singer, actor, wife, mother, daughter, person. Glad to have met you here. Glad to have acted with you. Glad to be neighbors.

By Becca Stabno

I have never been able to cry on stage.

In 18 years of community theatre musicals and plays, I have never been able to quite produce an actual tear. I have come close a few times-when I played Tzeitl in FIDDLER, and Papa Tevye wanted me to marry Lazar Wolf, I almost managed it. In SOUND OF MUSIC, as the Baroness saying goodbye to the Captain, I felt a twinge. But mostly, no tears.

That all changed last fall when I was cast as one of the WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE with Summit Theatre Group. Lockerbie tells the story of the aftermath of the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland, and how the women in the town wanted to turn the terrorists’ act of hatred into an act of love and compassion by washing the clothing of the victims and returning them to the families of those who were lost.

It’s an emotional topic, and an emotional script, with an added story of a couple whose only son, a college boy on a school trip, perished in the explosion and whose body was never recovered. Their grief, even seven years later, was ongoing and as strong as the day they heard that their son would not be home for Christmas. The women interact with the couple, and try to encourage healing by sharing their own stories, and their own pain.

I was thrilled to be given the chance to do this play. It was exciting and fun to train with a dialect coach to learn the correct Scottish accent, and it drove my children crazy because I practiced on them all the time. It was also only the second straight play I had done since college, so I was eager to explore that genre some more. But something about this story just grabbed me and held on.

Lockerbie changed me. We immersed ourselves in this little Scottish village, in these people and their relationships with one another. We experienced their loss every single night in rehearsal. And it was so very real, that night after night, I cried. Real, actual tears, not just “it’s my character’s feelings and I am supposed to cry now” crying. We were so involved in the story that the tears were a natural part of our experience. So when the mother shared how she found out about the crash, when the father shared about how he can’t get his wife past her grief and had never been able to grieve himself, when one of the women shared how she lost her family when the plane came down on her house, those things felt real. And I cried.

And then, we washed the clothes. The director, Betsy Sexton, asked us each to donate our own clothes to be bloodied up for the props, so we were washing shirts that we had once worn, or that our children had played in, and they were stained and torn, and it was so real. Tears flowed freely, because this was powerful and moving, this was our way to show the world that hatred will not win, that love can overshadow the anger, and the light will come when the sun rises tomorrow.

The cast of that show became very close. Experiencing something that emotional night after night, as a group, really brought us together. The relationships we forged as we created this story are life-long and special and enduring. One of the other cast members was a friend of my parents in college and through their young adulthood, and so she knew me as a young child-now we have bonded as adults through this show. My cast mates have a place in my heart now, and I believe that will be lasting.

Community theatre did that. It gave me a new family in the people who worked together on this play. It gave me challenges in learning a new dialect; it gave me a chance to try something new with an emotional drama. This play was so timely-even though the crash was 20 years ago, the message is so very relevant today, with all the hatred and anger and pain in the world. Sharing the story of Lockerbie was a chance to show a different response to acts of hate. It was important. It mattered.

Being in community theatre gives me opportunities to meet new people, experience new characters, and tell new stories. I am so grateful for the chance to tell such a powerful story, and to have spent a brief time in Lockerbie.

Oh, aye, Becca. Well said, Lass. đŸ™‚



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