All the world’s a stage
I’m an actor and I’ve acted in tragedies, but when one arrives in real life it’s shocking and bewildering. As I learned last week that a friend of mine committed suicide by jumping off of the 42nd floor of the Spire building in downtown Denver, I wonder “where are the playwright and director to help us through the final act?” We need some clue to the meaning of this and other terrible events.
In Greek tragedy there is usually a tragic hero whom Aristotle defined as “a man who is neither a paragon of virtue and justice nor undergoes the change to misfortune through any real badness, but because of some mistake.” Everyone who knew my friend is asking themselves about that “mistake”. What was wrong that we didn’t know about? Why didn’t he feel comfortable taking off his “mask” to show us the real pain underneath? I start searching through my memories of him.
We were both in a production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest several years ago, but our characters didn’t interact, so not many memories are there. But I have quite a few of seeing him at other opening nights and the parties after, and pleasantly chatting with him about nothing in particular. He was a casual “theatre friend” but he was always genuinely nice and he never had many complaints. In short, a kind and gentle person- not someone you’d ever in a million years imagine was capable of flinging himself off of a tall building to his death.
Then an answer arrives. He had barely slept in 3 months. He was chronically sleep deprived and refused to take any medication. But what was keeping him awake at night?
We will never know. The tragic hero has exited the stage. Those of us left can only reach out to each other and hope for catharsis.