The beautiful thing about having been an actor for so long is that acting makes you love words.
“Words words words!” to quote Hamlet… yes, words. Those pointless guttural utterances that drop from our mouths in a series of memorized consonants and vowels as dictated by the culture in which one has grown up; those sounds that can mean so much as they escape on our outward breath and be taken so wrong by the receiving party; those paltry makeshift canoes meant to navigate the deeper tumult of the river of our emotional core; words.
Now, there are scripts without words. They do exist. They’re mostly film scripts since film is a different medium and focuses a lot on visual aspects. Because of the higher reliance on visuals, film pays a lot more respect to body language; what can be said with your eyes for example or with a recoil from a touch on the shoulder. These are things that can be said without words. Speaks volumes in fact. Just in silence.
But as an actor trained from the theater, there are certain plays that just get the words right. All those feelings inside that I can’t get out or word or express with my voice or my body. But armed with these words from a playwright’s pen, I now have a bigger, better equipped canoe to navigate this river of human existence. That’s what it feels like to love words.
Just recently, my friend was auditioning for a role in “The Language Archives” by Julia Cho. It’s actually a play that’s about the language of love (whatever that means to you). And like all excited children with a new toy, she called me up all enamored with a monologue that made her weep.
“Can I read this to you?!” she breathlessly called.
And she began. I can’t remember the words exactly, but the story behind the monologue was of a man whose wife has just left him. And he’s talking about his wife and love. He talks about how he was a warrior who tried to capture this rare bird and how upon capture, the bird got scared and transformed into a tiger, and kept shape-shifting into bigger demonic creatures in order to scare him off. And how scared he was. But he concluded that “you gotta hold on no matter how scared you get” til both parties are so tired, they stop shape-shifting and they just… are.
And as two actors who both love the constructed words and the metaphors and the deeper life behind the word painting; my friend and I -two hundred miles apart and only connected by a digital data cellular network that neither of us really understand- we openly wept. Because the words struck upon a nugget of truth and kept on ringing.