Sunday, February 24, 2013

This “strolling player” strikes a resounding chord about fathers


I discovered an actor yesterday. In the process, I also discovered a raw and heartfelt blog that I commend to my readers.

Richard Willis as Chorus
Yesterday, I saw a marvelous performance of Shakespeare’s Henry V, at the Folger Theater. While cascades of highly justified praise goes to the immensely talented Zach Appelman, I was just as impressed by the actor who gave a dimension I had never seen in Chorus. Richard Willis’ expressive use of the narrator role gave me a new insight into Shakespeare’s genius, and that is an achievement devoutly to be wished. Naturally, I wanted to find out more about this actor I had never seen, so I followed the links and, ultimately, found his blog, Strolling Player. As I scrolled through his posts, I came across one that is a year old, one that struck a resounding chord in me. Richard’s Ghost of My Dead Father brings emotions to the surface.

When I started Chimp Trainer’s Daughter, I wrote about the violence, abuse, and darkness that was much of my relationship with my father. In the process of blogging, I discovered two things: first, that fathers are complicated and our relationships with our fathers grow even more complicated after they are gone; and second, that many of my readers had been deeply hurt by their fathers and were left, like me, trying to figure out why. I discovered I was not alone.

Richard’s writing is equally a gift to theater lovers and to non-theater goers who want reassurance that they are not alone in puzzling out life’s conflicting threads of happiness and sadness, of disappointments and hope. His blog is also a gift to his daughters, who will always have these special insights into their dad.

An actor gives his audience a gift when he goes on stage. A writer gives readers a gift when he puts a coherent pen to paper. A father gives a gift when he offers a glimpse into himself. It is a pleasure to find someone who offers all three.

Bravo, strolling player.

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