by Matthew Socey
Now that we are in the midst of graduation season, I want to start with a semi-unrelated note and highly recommend the 1985 comedy Fandango starring a then-unknown Kevin Costner(before Silverado and after his famous omission from The Big Chill. More on that film later.) and a slightly more-known-at-the-time Judd Nelson(before The Breakfast Club and after Making the Grade). It’s graduation weekend 1971 in Austin, Texas. Five college friends go on one final road trip to Mexico before a wedding and reporting to military service. I don’t do best/worst lists much, but Fandango, Sideways and Thelma and Louise are my all-time favorite road trip films.
Back to your regularly scheduled blog…
The beauty of art (any art form) is that you are never too old to discover. Unless you’re George Lucas (Han shot first in Star Wars) or Steven Spielberg (those were guns, not walkie-talkies in E.T.), the art doesn’t change. We change.
I think the film The Big Chill should be watched every five years. I was a 13 year-old the first time I experienced this Lawrence Kasdan drama about a group of college friends reuniting for the weekend at the funeral of one from their group. What I got out of this film the first time I watched it was strong acting across the board (William Hurt, Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum, JoBeth Williams, Tom Berenger and Meg Tilly, all early in their careers) and it was a chance to see grown-ups vulnerable. The film gave me the same feelings at age 18. I hadn’t had enough life experiences yet.
By the time I revisited the film when I was 25, my mother had died my junior year of college and I had a college friend commit suicide. As time went on, jobs, marriage and family all became a part of me. Time has a way of adding weight (not just the pounds version) to a person. One could relate more, sympathize more, even scorn more. The film hasn’t changed one bit. I have.
Another example of a person changing but the art doesn’t is having your own participation with the art. In 2014, I had the privilege of performing in the first Richmond Shakespeare Festival as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. A week after the festival closed, I woke up on a Sunday morning, made a pot of coffee and watched the film version of Much Ado starring and directed by Kenneth Branagh, who played Benedick.
Side Note: I remember the first time I experienced this film. It was the summer I graduated college and I went with a group of fellow theatre students. One of my favorite cinematic experiences. I am excited for folks who get to experience something like that for the first time. I’ll always remember the first time I heard Bruce Springsteen‘s Born to Run(alone in my teenage bedroom). I’ve listened to that album hundreds of times. I couldn’t tell you what I was doing the 48th time I heard this album, but I could remember vividly the first.
Back to Much Ado, I have seen this film over a dozen times. After my own performance as Benedick, I view the film differently now. It doesn’t make the film better or worse and I wasn’t doing a compare/contrast of the performances or the way the story was told. Because I had my own personal experience with the story, it forever feels different. I can’t wait until I see another production of Much Ado. I won’t be sitting in the front row, arms crossed waiting to be challenged(“Oh, I would never say the line that way.”) I am excited to see another person’s journey with the story and the character.
I would love to know if you have had your own example of realizing that you have changed but the art has not. Find something that maybe you at first didn’t get or understand and give it another try. Sometimes it is all in the timing, which will be the subject of my next blog. Keep exploring.
Matthew Socey 5-16-6018