So, last night's dress rehearsal. More of a tech dress, really, since it was the first time where we had all elements onstage - while this is theoretically a concert performance, it's a fairly elaborate semi-staged one, so it has a lot of the same complicates as a full show!
One of the more thought-provoking moments was when my character - dictated by the script to be in a wheelchair - inadvertently got stranded out onstage as another scene began. What to do? As the humourous options ran through my head ("Get up?" It's a miracle! "Use my arms to push it?" Paralympics!), the far more sobering reality of the sheer helplessness, frustration, and limitations of relying on others for everything became all-too-apparent to me. I think we all understand this intellectually, but actually living it - even onstage - was a different experience indeed. Even something as basic as finding my light - which, during a dialogue run on my own feet, I realised is something I do so instinctively and sub-consciously, without even thinking about it - becomes a case of relying on somebody else to interpret that sensation of warmth for me.
While I have always tried to help where I could when associated with those who are restricted in their mobility, I have an first-hand empathy now, however theatrical a one. So next time you see somebody who can't do for themselves, stop and think what might be helpful. I know I will.