SO WHO KNEW 60 YEARS AGO I’D BE GETTING MY MABEL CUT AND MY DESTINY WOULD BE SEALED!? Rehearsals going well. First run thru tomorrow. I do hope audiences will come but can’t worry about that now! Focus on lines!!
“Use me. Use my life. It’s what I’ve always longed for, ways to be used, to useful somehow.” Mabel Dodge Luhan
Back home in 1994, after gathering all my research I got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material and complexity of the woman and wanted to quit. That’s when Mabel started visiting me in my dreams. And she broke our glass table! Early one morning we heard a tremendous crash out on the patio. The big umbrella had lifted itself off its heavy metal stand and impaled itself in the center of the glass table! There was no wind, no storm, nothing that could have caused it but the power of Mabel’s spirit or ghost!
The message was clear. There was no quitting for me. I let Mabel’s words shape the play. It felt like I was the instrument and Mabel was giving me the music. Memorizing her words, giving voice to her feelings, her life, made her part of my life. She not only gave me the courage to do the show, but some years later to develop my own voice in solo shows.
“The idea was speaking through me. I hadn’t consciously thought it. It was another case of “It.” Let It happen. Let It decide. Something was speaking through me.” Mabel Dodge Luhan
The first thing Mabel did to change my life was get me into a library. I’d never spent more than two hours at a time in library and that was in high school! And here I was spending whole days at the Yale Bieneke library, when they opened till they closed. Sitting near people who were looking at the Guttenberg Bible for goodness sakes.
Mabel was prolific to say the least. there are 1500 pounds of journals, essays, stories, scrapbooks, letters, articles and unpublished novels. Not to mention her published 4 memoirs and book on D.H. Lawrence as a book Winter in Taos. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume material and complexity of the woman and wanted to quit.
Then on the second day I pulled out a Christmas card she had sent to someone and had a piece of sage inside. I could still smell it. At that moment she took hold of me. When I discovered a speech she’d given about menopause, I knew was on the right track. Since I was howling my way into that particular phase of my life and felt Mabel was speaking directly to me. At that point she wasn’t about to let me quit or leave the library till I’d found what I needed. Even though the idea of writing was intimidating I channeled my actor’s credo -stayed in the moment, trusted my intuition and remained for 4 more days
“There is a fire that burns in us, yes in all of us, that is the sexual fire sublimated and become divine. And we loose touch with that fire with the onslaught of the change of life. We must find a way back to that fire!” Mabel Dodge Luhan
Hi Friends, I hope you will join Mabel and me in my first blog as we prepare for my solo show on her August 6-16 at The Santa Fe Playhouse.
Mabel Dodge Luhan was the notorious, much-married art patron and symbol of the New Woman in the early 20th century. Mabel’s life connected important social and intellectual issues as well as artists and writers such as Georgia O’Keefe, D. H. Lawrence and Willa Cather.
Mabel was a woman who celebrated life with each breath. I let Mabel’s words shape the play. I was the editor, taking passages from her books, essays, and weaving them together. The passages I chose reflected my personal response to her.
Writing in Mabel’s words, performing the show in 1994, I didn’t realize how much Mabel would change my life.
I’m so excited to be working with director Kent Kirkpatrick on a restaging of my solo show on MABEL! August 6-16, 2015 at the Santa Fe Playhouse.