by PAUL LINKE
enormity of life is often forgotten, until we fall face down into the abyss of questioning its meaning. When I eulogized my late wife in 1986, I never imagined that those words would lead me to a new career, as a solo performer and writer. After the service, director Mark W. Travis asked if I knew of Spaulding Gray and his work Swimming to Cambodia, and then he said, “you should do a one man show!”
It was a life changing idea and, most importantly, one that steered me out of that abyss of questions and into the experience of acceptance. It became hugely important, over the next twenty–five years, not only for my own personal healing, but because it’s a perfect way for people to connect with one another.
Time has always been very important to me. The word is in the title of all six of my plays. Time stirs the soul, and is a constant reminder of the fragility of life. It is our most precious commodity, and the currency of existence. This begs the question: since we are all inextricably bound by a common fate, limited by Time, why does this truth not inspire kindness, compassion, curiosity, forgiveness, and love?
Perhaps part of the problem is that, while nearly everyone in the world shares certain commonalities, there’s often a reluctance to talk about them. My own story (the one I share in It’s Time) is one of these instances of the human reluctance to open up, but without a doubt, theatre — and those tales that we create and share — keep these connections possible, help us cope with our own tragedies, and inspire us to overcome.
Over the last thirty years, I’ve gone from a grief-stricken widower with three small children to a grateful, happy, curious, and hopeful person — a direct result of my experience as a solo performer, and the intimate conversations solo performance allows me to have with each audience member. The audience is able to share the story while reliving the laughter and tears within it. From this side, my image is of a river, which for me is the action of performing. The story is the stone sitting in the middle of the river, constantly shaped by the action of the current passing over it. In time the stone becomes smooth and polished, which is the finished monologue.
By breaking down the big picture into the stories that help us to see life from different perspectives, it allows us to savor those moments in time that make our lives the unlikely miracle that each day really is.