Any scene that I do lately, when I’m playing Ma Joad, I think of the long line of strong women in my family before me.
The way I stand. The way I stare. The way I clench my jaw in contemplation. Tired, somewhat relaxed, but chewing on tomorrow.
These two women saw the 20th century in color.
They saw the blood. And the babies. And the dust.
They saw the first car in their town.
The first TV.
The first washing machine.
They watched tears roll down their children’s faces.
Wiped those tears.
Watched rivers rise and fall.
Husbands come and go.
I think of them as I play Ma. How they would hold themselves? Carry themselves? Present themselves to the world? What did they have to do for their families during the Depression?
I know that deep down, they were both scared for their families, wanted the best for their kids. Loved God. Wanted all the things good people want for their descendants. And they just went on. Did what they needed. Hoped they made the right decisions. Cried their own tears.
The featured photo is the Baptist church in Aullville, my mom’s hometown. I played with the levels in Photoshop.
I was looking up old hymns last night. Mainly because I’m in Grapes of Wrath right now and I wanted to re-familiarize myself with old hymns. Ma Joad has got religion, but she ain’t lousy with it. She is happy in the Lord. 🙂 I hate to use the word religion or religious because it has such a negative connotation. And. She is more than that. She is spiritual. Like me.
One of my favorites, and I think a favorite of my mom, is In the Garden. <<—this version by Johnny Cash (one of my favorite country artists)
But I also looked up Rock of Ages. Not a big one when I was kid. But the words are touching.
Rock of ages (Jesus)
Cleft for me (Broken)
Let me hide
Myself in Thee (Let me cover my sin with your blood, or let your sacrifice cover my shortcomings, or let people see you, perfect, instead of me, flawed)
Then I found this! AH! Bruce and Rage Against the Machine’s singer Tom Morello?? How have I not heard this?
Hey y’all! I’s done did it now! I was cast in Grapes of Wrath here in Venice. I get to play Ma Joad. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’m fit to be tied, I tell ya.
Grapes of Wrath is epic. Christian-themed, full of religion and tragic as hell. You could tell me it’s based on an ancient Greek play and I’d swaller that whole. I can’t wait to get started.
Hear tell, I’m an Okie. Sorta. Little bit. My kin come from all over, but my granddaddy’s daddy married a full-blooded Native American down in Oklahoma and had hisself a brood with her’n. My dad’s dad was 1/2 Chickasaw, came up from Oklahomie and put hisself thru Chiropracty schoolin’ in KC. He was a farmer, doctor of sorts and fishing lure inventor. He even patented a complicated, new-fangled, unsuccessful lure design, had a couple made, and sold a very few. My ma still has one. Ugly thing made to impress with multiple hooks, shiny plastic housing, and bright, fake insect-like bait, but in all probability, totally useless.
I am particularly proud of my tangential Okie connection. My Native American heritage. My own Missouri family history through the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. I am proud to come from a long line of working class folks. The people who work hard and do what it takes. I’m not sure how or why they (we) made it through such a terrible time, but it tells me even this minute detail:
“…we’re the people that live.” (Ma, Grapes of Wrath)
I’ve overcome terrible sickness/surgery, my own personal depression, and raging food addiction for the last 5+ years, but I am the person that lives. 🙂 I come from a long line of hellers. 😉