*I write a lot about experiencing the novel through crafts, snacks, field trips, dramatization, etc. This blog will discuss experiencing Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie through its dramatization which my husband and I attended June 12, 2011. This blog, though, is written in celebration of the life of Michelle Conrady-Brown, born June 27, 1977. Having only met Michelle a handful of times through her sister, my friend Ash, I felt as if I had known her for years due to her warmth and smile. A loving mother to Avery and Nora, devoted wife, and tireless social worker, she is remembered forever in our hearts.
Having purchased my tickets for the play, Tuesdays with Morrie, I wanted to read the non-fiction work written by Mitch Albom prior to performance night. Having downloaded this book on my phone, I intentionally learned how to use the digital highlighter thingy ma bob because of the thought-provoking aphorisms (these quotes will definitely find their way onto my chalkboard) at nearly every turn of the page. The vivid descriptions of Morrie’s debilitating disease brought to mind memories of my own father’s gruesome death at the hands of cancer, and, thus, streams of tears from my eyes. Yet, I do not walk away from the reading of Tuesdays with Morrie with mere sadness at the loss of Morrie, a contributing member of society, but sadness overshadowed by the motivation to do more with one’s life with the end goal of not benefiting oneself, but benefiting others.
Thus “date night” arrived, and the hub begrudgingly agreed to accompany me to see the enactment of Tuesdays with Morrie (although X-Men: First Class would have been his choice). This play, directed by Tom Corbett, had a one-night production at Troy United Methodist Church. The two-man cast from the Ricks-Weil Theatre Company comprised Gary Roberts as Mitch Albom and Thom Johnson as Morrie Schwartz. There was no changing of scenery, no intermission, and only slight costume changes. Yet, the passing of twenty years and the suggestion of an accompanying cast through the use, for example, of an empty chair was achieved. This play was able to portray the love between these two human beings as well as the rapid progression of ALS in a meager 90 minutes. What impressed upon me the most was the creative usage of lighting. At one point, Mitch’s wife, Janine (i.e. the character in the empty chair), visits Morrie. A singer, she agrees to sing for Morrie at his request. Morrie, in turn, closes his eyes in order to be in the moment and savor this gift of her voice (which is a recording played in the background). After Morrie closes his eyes, the stage as well as the church’s Family Living Center, where the stage is placed, goes dark- unable to see my hand in front of my face dark. Thus, the audience’s eyes are shut, too, in order to accompany Morrie in the present. The play ended with roaring applause, and then there was an unusual quietness where, I guessed, people were lost in thought instigated by the play in much the same manner as the hub and I were. The majority of the ride home was comfortable silence interrupted only with our agreeing that we both thoroughly enjoyed Tuesdays with Morrie. I will now close with one of Morrie’s aphorisms for the road, this journey we call life, “Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”