The Second Time Around

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Seriously…. It feels like it’s been seven years, give or take, since we performed I Remember Justine. But really, it’s only been eight months. A lot has changed. I have changed. My recovery has changed. Now, we are in the midst of rehearsing another play, Twin Falls, to give to the world our views of recovery and post-treatment transition into the “real world.” And honestly, everything seems vastly different since I Remember Justine. Everything except for the presence of group strength, courage, and unbelievable creativity. Let me fill you in on a little secret: take a handful of kind-hearted, strong adults that have been through so much their entire lives, put them into a room with an incredible drama therapist (some names that come to the top of my mind include Laura Wood and Dave Mowers for example), and what transpires is a powerhouse of near-tangible energy that becomes molded into a beautiful and vibrant collage of courage, strength, creativity, and wonder from the human mind.

I was asked my thoughts and feelings about the switch from Mateo, the main character in I Remember Justine, to more supportive roles in Twin Falls, while witnessing the growth of others in our current project. I would be lying if I told you I didn’t feel at first a slight tinge of jealousy! The cloud nine high I rode after the last performance was otherworldly! But as Dave and Laura had expressed in our weekend intensive rehearsals, with progressing from the work in the first project, it was now time to allow others to take center stage. My prior cast mate and I, both now participating in round two of Laura’s research, would become the parental figures or mentors to a new group of cast as they learn the process of Recovery Through Performance as well as their expressive capabilities on stage. I realized I was now fulfilling a different capacity for the project. As such, this was a different kind of joy I was feeling.

I am witnessing the growth, spirit, and strength of new and old friends during my second participation. And honestly, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I’m now able to see other side of the equation with Twin Falls. Before, I was constantly on my feet rehearsing lines, sculpting the character, creating vivid back stories, figuring out what emotions I’m trying to embody and the elicit from others. Now, I get to observe other main characters as they rehearse and explore their boundaries with acting and expressing their roles. Holding that energy and being there for support is extremely gratifying and honoring. And yes, it’s still hard as hell rehearsing the supportive roles I play! But being able to witness the other group members acting extremely powerful and emotional roles is incredible. I have already been laughing, grieving, smiling, surprised, and saddened just watching the rehearsals! I can only imagine what I will be feeling during the next couple weeks going forward including the live performance.

Our pace has been very quick as we are working with a very tight schedule. Rehearsing twice a week is actually better for me as I am able to fully immerse myself into the process without getting behind due to stagnation or losing the energy that was produced from the prior rehearsal. Last time, we were together once a week up until the last few weeks prior to performance when the meetings became more regular. My mind believes we just started rehearsals for Twin Falls but yet we go live in less than three weeks! Even though the timeline for I Remember Justine was much longer, I remember it ending too soon because I just wanted to keep performing and seeing the close knit group weekly because outside of rehearsing the play, the project became extremely helpful and supportive to my recovery process. I’m finding that with Twin Falls, the feeling of attachment is the same. I do remember Laura expressing the parallel between the creation and then loss of I Remember Justine to the beginning and end to relationships in the “real world.” Attachments are absolutely difficult to navigate for anyone. Having to lose one that meant so much is painful beyond words. I am learning that it’s imperative to focus and truly experience what is going on now and savor all that I can.

And yet, It is hard to focus on the here and now knowing that this will be the last time I work with Laura Wood on a full project. I Remember Justine changed my life less than a year ago and now Twin Falls has been giving me new perspectives and growth in my current stage in recovery. I’ve never been able to be a part of something so incredible, ground breaking, and inspiring as these two projects. I will hold them forever in my heart and will never forget the impact everyone, cast and crew together, has had on my life. It was hard to say goodbye last November. It will be even harder to say goodbye this August.

-Rahul M

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