Here’s the latest submission for the “All Your Joy” contest! Ms. Kerry Doherty has sent us an essay describing one of her very joyful moments. You can participate in the “All Your Joy” contest right here.
“All Your Joy” is in conjunction with “All This Joy,” which is available for download right here.
FINDING JOY IN A SOUR TINKERBELL
By Kerri Doherty
In 7th grade I was cast to play Tinkerbell in Peter Pan as part of the Carver High School annual fall play. I was ecstatic at the thought of donning a sparkly outfit and wearing my hair in a high ponytail. Most of all, I was looking forward to being funny. At that age I wasn’t the most confident kid – I was plagued with awkward facial tics and my love for sugary treats often left me bouncing off the walls. But when I wasn’t blinking a mile a minute or petting someone’s cat too hard, I knew how to make people laugh (OK, so it was just my family, and only when I came to the dinner table in character as Steve Urkel, but I was still determined to make the entire school pee themselves over the hilarity of my performance).
On the first day of rehearsals, the entire cast of Peter Pan did a full read through of the script. This was led by the play’s two directors, senior class students named Nick and Erin. As each scene went by, I realized that not only was Tink a very unfunny character, she was kind of a sour bitch.
Nevertheless, I put my heart into each rehearsal, excited to be a part of something big.
On opening night I nervously snuck a peek at the audience just before show time. It was a packed house. As the curtain rose and I took the stage, I played Tink straight, like I was supposed to. When we reached the scene toward the end of the play where Tink drinks a vial of poison to save Peter, I made a decision. I was going to play it funny.
I looked out into the audience and saw the two directors smiling back at me. I’d always taken their direction. But I had to do this. When the time came, I snatched the poison from the boy in the green tights and funny cap, drank it and fainted, just like I’d practiced.
Peter bent down, frightened. “Tink,” he exclaimed, a worried look plaguing his shiny face. “Are you OK?”
At this point I was supposed to dramatically stage whisper, “I took the poison, Peter. And now I’m going to die.” Upon hearing this, Peter becomes visibly upset and turns to the audience, begging them to clap so that I may be revived. The audience claps, and as the sound gets louder, I jump back up, revived. Peter and I hug and the curtains come down.
Instead, when Peter asked, “Tink, are you OK?” I hopped up onto my elbows. “No, Peter.” I said flatly. “I took the poison. And now —” here I slowly and dramatically put my hand to my head and returned my head to the floor. “I’m dying.”
“Let’s save Tinkerbell!” He begged the audience. “Clap your hands if you want to save Tink!”
There was a split second of hesitation from the crowd, so I quickly sat up and glared at them.
“CLAP!” I demanded, then quickly put my head back down. The audience laughed and cheered loudly. As the sound of their enthusiastic claps became deafening, I jumped up and bowed, mouthing the words, “Thank You.” I blew a few kisses to the audience. Instead of hugging Peter, I shoved him. Hard.
“You’re welcome,” I scoffed at him, and walked offstage.
The audience roared again.
As soon as I got backstage I performed a series of celebratory dance moves. I’d never felt such exhileration. The decision to make the character of Tink my own was one of the first instances that I can recall in which I followed my own creative instincts. 17 years later, the moment still brings me such great joy.
(Side note: If anyone from Carver High School’s theater department is reading this, I heard a rumor that once, before rehearsal, two fellow students may or may not have had “relations” inside Tinkerbell’s giant clock. If you know anything about this, please let me know. I spent a lot of time in that clock and would like some closure.)