Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time. Genesis 46:29 (NIV)
A week and a half ago the curtain fell on Ah, Wilderness! which will likely be my only chance in life to act in a show by the classic American playwright Eugene O’Neill. In my preparation for the role I learned a lot about the author and the play. Ah, Wilderness! was written in response to critics who said that he couldn’t write a comedy. The family comedy is set in the same town in the same year as his family tragedy Long Days Journey into Night. Scholars say that the two plays are bookends with the tragedy being an autobiographical look at his own broken family and the comedy being a picture of the family of an old girlfriend, the family he wished he’d had.
I also learned that the character I played became the prototype of the modern sit-com father. A bit of a hen-pecked bumbler, the family rolled their eyes at his penchant for repeating the same stories over and over again. He would wax hard about his will only to wane quickly with a quick glare from his wife. He comically couldn’t find the words to have “the talk” with his son, but nontheless won his son’s respect and affection in the attempt.
In my character work for the part I spent a lot of time thinking about being a father. I thought about my father and my grandfathers whom I love and admire. I thought about my own children and my experiences being a dad. Being the “old guy” in a college production, I thought a lot about my fellow young actors whom I came to love with paternal affection. It’s fascinating how God designed life. There is so much of our soul that is intertwined in our relationship, or lack thereof, with our father. I’ve observed that our relationship, or lack thereof, with our earthly father can have a profound affect on the way we see and relate to the Heavenly Father. Some never see it nor do they appear to get past it.
All of these thoughts came to roost in the wee hours this morning as I read of Joseph’s reunion with his father Jacob. What a powerful moment for these two men, father and son as they see one another for the first time in years and tearfully embrace. Jacob holding the son he thought was dead. Joseph longing for the father he’d missed. I thought of the Prodigal Son’s return and how the reunion of Joseph and Jacob were different and similar.
I’m struggling to neatly wrap this post up in a succinctly profound thought this morning. Some days I read the chapter and my heart and mind refuse to land in one place. They just sort of take off into scattered thoughts and ponderings. So, I think I’ll just let them wander aloft.
Have a good day.
- Preparing for a Role: Keeping Focus When Siri Joins You on Stage (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
- Preparing for a Role: Digging Into the Character (tomvanderwell.wordpress.com)
- Father’s Embrace (pattyperkins.wordpress.com)