Laughter as a Bridge and Community Builder: Shared Delight has the Power to Change the World
This is the second blog in this series featuring Our Voices playwrights writing about the plays they presented on September 30, 2018 in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, Wellesley College. This week, playwright Lynda Blair Vernalia writes about presenting Moth-erly Love.
Moth-erly Love, A Short-Lived play by Lynda Blair Vernalia
I spent most of my youth living like a roach in the dark hidey holes of a dysfunctional family, occasionally wreaking havoc, but mostly staying in the shadows out of everyone’s way. (Of course in my darkest times, more often than I care to admit, I have also felt as stuck as a lightbulb in its socket.)
By a saving grace, I found my moth-erly side in the theater, a free openness (sometimes flakiness) filled with light and laughter. Through acting and playwriting, creating characters that echo my dreams, desires and harsh realities, I have found an authentic self, a voice worth hearing and – I have come to find over time – a voice worth sharing.
I love comedy. A comic actress for over 30 years now, I have reveled in work and characters that are sharp, smart and witty, but acting always involves me embracing someone else’s truth to share with the audience. When I started translating this openness to my writing, I found a delightful inner flow and release. How easy it came to me. How liberating! Poetry, novels, articles, all fell short. I had never felt capable as a writer before I embraced this format. Suddenly there was a chance to allow the audience and fellow actors to breathe my space to see and hear my stories. They laugh with me to make their own darkness a little lighter.
I first read the poetry of Don Marquis in high school (that original copy still lives on my bookshelf). His work struck a deep chord within, especially his poem, “The Lesson of the Moth” which examines the universal debate about what constitutes a life worth living through the briefest of conversations between a flighty moth and a bold cockroach. Would you rather have 30 seconds of wonderful? Or uneventful longevity?
Moth-erly Love is my homage to the poet who made me ask those questions. His work has this laid-back profundity, but I could not write it as such. Embodying a moth and a cockroach and a lightbulb onstage? Well, that just has to be funny:
I’ll survive the nuclear blast, but you? Keep this up and you’ll get yourself killed!
That’s the idea!
For the love of dark spaces, why?
Fire is life. Life should be exciting. Fire is beautiful. Look, I’m obviously no butterfly, but I want to be beautiful, like the flight of flickering flame in the wind. I’d rather go in gorgeous glory than flit around mostly miserable for a crackling candle. Why then I’d be... almost...human...
(Both ROACH and MOTH shudder.)
I don’t want to survive Armageddon! Easy come, easy go. Make me the fireworks! Part of the explosion!
. . . .
What a thrill to see Moth-erly Love performed in a staged reading at The Our Voices Festival at Wellesley College on Sept. 30, 2018. I had the greatest fortune to share the day with my daughter, who read stage directions for my play and jumped in at the last minute to perform in one of the afternoon plays. Laughing uproariously with her and the rest of the audience, fellow performers and playwrights, I felt the shared connection, this amazing energy for which I had laid the foundation. I could hardly believe it. The energy crackled from one end of the black box to the other. From the feedback at the end of the evening, I would say almost everyone went home that night inspired to determine for themselves, are they more roach – or. . .
. . . moth?
Being part of Our Voices this year, I found, that for all the serious topics the female participants had to share, we all have a great capacity to find the humor in our human condition. As I said in my artist statement, “shared delight has the power to change the world.” When women band together and speak our truth, we build bridges to each other and help each other move forward. My thanks to Kelly for giving us room to breathe and be open about our roach-iness, our moth-iness and for not allowing us limit ourselves to being just the lightbulb.
About Lynda Blair Vernalia
Linda is a member of the Merrimack Valley Playwrights of Lowell, MA as both a playwright and actor-in-residence. She is also the Playwright-in-Residence and Head of the Theater Tech Program for Revolution Dance Studios in Chelmsford, MA and writes original scripts for their annual showcase. Her first original show, “Target America” was performed at Bradford College in 1991. She didn’t write another play until 2006, when her one act “Crosswalk!” and Lenten series “Keys to the Cross” were both produced in the same year by the LCS Drama Ministry of Bedford, MA. Since then, four of her ten-minute plays have appeared in the Lowell Fem Noire Festival, two short plays had live staged readings filmed for Lowell TeleCommunication’s “Live from Studio A.”, she has had staged readings of numerous plays from Boston to Maine and 3 shorts have graced the stage of the Our Voices Festival at Wellesley College. Lynda has a BA in Performing Arts from Bradford College an EdM in Education from Harvard and is also a published poet. You can reach her at Lbvernalia@gmail.com
©Lynda Blair Vernalia, 2018