Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Ron Reed, "Work the World Has Need Of"

CHARLIE. I am in awe of the work you are doing amongst the poor.

LILIA. I'm no Octavia Hill. I visit with people who look like they want to talk, that's all. Most often I have to be at home. It's no hardship to sing a song or recite a poem.

CHARLIE. Not for you.

LILIA. No. That's just how I'm made.

CHARLIE. I like how you're made.


LILIA. But this isn't all, you know, all I'm meant to do. I can feel it. The entertainments are fine, they drive dull care away for some people with all too many cares. But there must be more. I feel it when I play in Shakespeare. I feel it when I can do something for one of the tenants, something that actually makes a difference. I have work to do, work the world has need of. Only-- I am not doing it!

CHARLIE. Perhaps you are.

LILIA. I'm not! Otherwise, why this yearning? I'm made for something bigger, Charlie, something... Something I don't know.

CHARLIE. You need a larger stage, that's all. You could change the London theatre, I sincerely believe that.

LILIA. My parents would never stand for it.

CHARLIE. What? But they encourage it. You act out plays together.

LILIA. In our back yard. With father and mother close at hand. But if I were ever to do what Jenny has done--

CHARLIE. And you could!

LILIA. (Pause.) When my father speaks, people are enthralled. They say it is like listening to Jesus.

CHARLIE. You can sense it in his books.

LILIA. In Philadelphia, three thousand people crammed into a 2800 seat theatre to hear him speak, about "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" if you can believe it - and they said it was better than any sermon they had ever heard. That God spoke through him.

CHARLIE. I believe that.

LILIA. What if I have that in me? And I do nothing but babysit my brothers and read poems to the poor people.

CHARLIE. Those sacrifices may be of more account than you know.

LILIA. And they may be of less! I think it lives in me. Just as it does in my father. Sometimes it presses so hard inside me, I feel as it will begin to seep out through my skin if I don't find a way to let it out. That I will bleed from the eyes. (Silence) I'm sorry.


LILIA. I've never spoken of these things.


LILIA. Something takes hold when I am on a stage, inside a character. And it could transform people, somehow. (Beat) Why am I telling you all this? I don't even know you, and I pour my silly ideas in your ear. I feel embarassed.

(CHARLIE looks in her eyes, then leans over and kisses her tentatively on the cheek.)

LILIA. Oh my. Charlie. Now I feel embarassed.

from "A Bright Particular Star," the story of George MacDonald's daughter Lilia, who was an actress