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      I've been diagnosed with Lyme disease.

      I've been diagnosed with Lyme disease. It's been a fairly long time in coming—the diagnosis—but not nearly as long as others that I know of who have waited for years trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with them. So I guess I'm lucky.

      As I walked to the Infectious Disease department of the Strong Memorial Hospital, I had to pass a number of other departments. The waiting rooms/reception areas were bright and open and sun-lit. The people behind the counters were all helpful and communicative. But the people sitting in the waiting area  arrested my attention.. A look of despair, of sadness, of weariness. A look devoid of hope.

      I haven't been ill—seriously ill—ever in my life. A few bouts with flu, some sore throats, but never in the hospital. Everything I've had was going to be—at least in my mind—correctly or incorrectly—short-lived. This illness, however, has lasted at least 8 weeks, and after a few rounds of blood tests—two of them for Lyme—nothing was coming back positive. Doctors seemed to be stumped. When there was no clear diagnosis forthcoming, I woke up one day thinking that this is how it's going to be for the rest of my life. I began to feel hopeless. It was a despairing feeling.

      This was a role I had not played before. I often hearken back to Atticus Finch's wisdom that we cannot really know a person until we have crawled around in their skin. This phenomenon is one of the greatest perks of being an actor: having the opportunity to crawl around in anther's skin; getting to know people other than ourselves.  I am now crawling around in the skin of so many thousands who have suffered without hope. I'm the first to recognize that my level of suffering doesn't come close to the suffering others endure. But I have just a glimpse of the sense of hopelessness that comes with such suffering.

      Suffering and hopelessness may be the bottom line of theater. These conditions are what draw us, perhaps, to keep coming back. How many times have we seen Romeo and Juliet. How does it still work after over 400 years? We know how it's going to end, but there is something in us that hopes against hope that the ending is going to turn out differently.

      I heard Meryl Sstreep comment on the phenomenon of Florence Jenkins and her less than stellar singing voice. Streep commented that we hold on to hope that Jenkins might just possibly hit those high notes...which she rarely does...but we keep hanging on to the hope that she will.

      Hope. Perhaps this is what keeps us coming back to theatre...to story telling...telling our stories. We are drawn to happy endings. Hope keeps us going. Hope keeps us looking ahead. When the doctors can't come up with a diagnosis and a plan for recovery, when the two young teenagers can't possibly find a life together, when Florence Jenkins just can't ever hit those high notes, when 12 angry men can't come to a conclusion about a young man's guilt or innocence, when a whole community is caught up in a mob mentality and are ready to burn young women as witches, when…


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