When I was asked at the last minute to sing Abigail Williams in The Crucible, my major concerns were learning the tricky 20th century music and being off book in a reasonable amount of time. It didn’t cross my mind at the time that I should consider how emotionally involved I become in my characters when I was discerning whether or not to take part.
The mysterious artist in me knows better than to give away too many of the insights I have into her character, but I can admit that it has been an interesting ride so far. Most human beings spend their lives reaching toward the light, toward wholeness, toward God. Identifying with Abigail has required some serious regression.
Cruelty, brokenness, unresolved trauma, hunger for power, misplaced priorities: day after day those are conditions I try to avoid. My relentless self-reflection seeks unlimited awareness of my own motivations; it’s hard to get to a place where I can be someone who doesn’t know what she’s doing. It’s been an adventure so far, a powerful and dangerous adventure.
Some of my colleagues insist they prefer playing unstable, insane characters. While it’s certainly interesting, I take my own mental health too seriously to say I enjoy it.