Today is the first day of three days in a row off from performing the Finkelsteins. It is also Rosh Hashanah and this evening we will go and have a feast with our closest and best friends (whose names are not Finkelsteins, and who are, according to the play half-Jewish).
The Finkelsteins (are Coming to Dinner) is the play that has brought me back into performing in a conventional theatre piece, with other actors, a proper script, a director, a rehearsal process. It has been fabulous and scary and exciting and challenging and rewarding all at once.
For those of you who don’t know, the Finkelsteins is about a young Jewish artist, Nate, who is falling in love with his life model but their relationship has the unusual triangle problem of Nate living with his dead mother. No surprises that I play the ghost. Weirdly enough the last time I wrote myself a play, Drive With Me, and performed it, the character was also a ghost. But it gets weirder.
Two weeks into me rehearsing the play in which my character is a dead Jewish mother my own mother unexpectedly died. In an absolute turmoil of crazy emotion and strange dislocatedness I flew to Johannesburg to bury her. In the car on the way to the airport I messaged my cast and director to tell them I would be away for a few days because my own mother had died. It was surreal.
After spending too short a time in mourning with my family I had to rush back to Cape Town to go straight into production week before opening at the CT Fringe. And for the last 10 days I have been playing a character for whom Kaddish (the prayer that is said for the dead) is said in my presence on stage. The layers of connection, communion, catharsis and empathetic link to my universe and the made up one are huge.
I have no real idea about how anything works, but I know this. The magic of stage, word, life, family, friendship, allies, ghosts, dreams and my own fleeting journey in this space are like tiny, absurd unicorn burps of miracles, and I am both grateful and unexplainingly furious for and about everything.