Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Miraculous Shove

While in High School during my senior year I tried out for one of the lead roles in a play. It was a comedy written by Neil Simon entitled Fools. *

I was given the part of Sophia, which was the character I wanted. I was exited to perform in this play about a curse that is placed on a small village in the Ukraine in the 1890s.

As my fellow actors and I rehearsed we realized just how funny this story truly was. The curse on the village made everyone stupid especially my character Sophia.

A new teacher, Leon comes to the village and falls in love with Sophia--he finds he must teach her something within 24 hours or he as well will fall under the curse.

In one scene Sophia is standing on a balcony and asks Leon to climb up a trellis to reach her. But as his character does this Sophia really dense runs down to meet him. He then tells her to wait for him but she races back up.

The play was a great success in the community and many returned to watch it several times.

The balcony scene elicited the most laughter but for me it was a challenge to maneuver physically. After saying my lines I had to rush backstage to enter the balcony and then I had to rush back onstage meeting cues both ways.

During this sprint I had to jump over a small gap between the balcony set and the stage. I had not told anyone I was afraid of heights and I was terrified that I would trip.

For the first few performances everything went fine but one night a high heel on one boot I wore as part of my costume caught the narrow edge on the platform were the gap was located.

I lost my balance and started to fall backward. I realized that my head was going to hit the metal supports below. I was terrified I was going to be badly injured or even killed.

I tried to catch myself by waving my arms but I continued to fall.

Suddenly, an unseen force shoved against the center of my back. It propelled me forward 3 to 4 feet. I landed right in front of the curtain that led to my balcony cue.

I turned to see who had helped me but no one was there. My adrenaline pumping I managed to finish the balcony scene.

Afterwards I checked with the cast and crew but no one had come to my rescue. My teachers and fellow students were amazed at my story--several were skeptical it had actually happened.

For the rest of the performances a teacher was placed at the gap to assist me across.

My only explanation for that shove was that an angel was sent to save me. Today--years later--I still feel humbled.

* The original play of Fools lasted on Broadway only 40 performances. The story goes Neil Simon who was divorcing his wife had promised her the profits from his next play.

Angels, Miracles, and Heavenly Encounters, compiled by James Stuart Bell

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