Letting Time Have Its Sway: A Study in Patience

Sometimes I get the sense that the faster I go, and I go pretty darn fast, the shorter my fuse becomes. When I get busy, I often don’t get the sleep I need, my food choices become less about health and more about comfort or speed, and I start expecting others to go at the same pace as me. Of course, they can’t, and perhaps they really shouldn’t. The race I run on a daily basis is even in my estimation far too ridiculous. But, that’s because I enjoy participating in my many interests, all of which I refuse to give up.

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Currently, I am directing a two-person play called The Gin Game. This Pulitzer winning play by D. L. Coburn calls for the actors to be in their 70s. After a lengthy audition period, I cast a man in his mid-sixties and a woman in her early-eighties and have not regretted a moment of my decision. Both of these lovely people are superb actors with fine work ethics. This two-hour play is difficult to conquer at any age, yet for seniors, all the more so. As an actress myself and not exactly a spring-chicken, I totally understand the challenges these two are attempting to master.

Rehearsals require a great deal of repetition and reinforcement. It’s too easy to become impatient with their progress for both me and the actors themselves. It has been good for me to slow myself down and accept that the time needed for the actors to fully digest this work is part of the business of theatre. And it’s been a lesson for the three of us that pushing the clock or beating oneself over missed lines or forgotten business is nothing more than counter-productive. As my mother used to say, “Rome was not built in a day,” and neither is a full-length play in a mere four months. 

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Sometimes a person has to surrender themselves to time, to the slow ticking of the clock when everything around them is screaming “Hurry up!” “Get your crap together once and for all!” or “You’re too old to keep doing this!” Patience and persistence—those two fruits of the spirit are exactly that—a chance to slow life down to a manageable pace and find the serenity of taking things in one breath at a time.

Gwen Overland