This week I saw a one-woman show Naked in Alaska, written and performed by Valerie Hager, and came away a changed man.
How? Like any good piece of the theatre, I uncovered a life lesson by watching Ms. Hager’s performance.
Being naked is an important part of life.
Naked in the metaphorical sense (sorry to disappoint all of your voyeuristic junkies).
To bare one’s soul, to open up about one’s sordid past, to disclose one’s private personal foibles—this is much braver than making a living dancing nude.
Ms. Hager performs her autobiographical piece with an earnestness and makes her work look effortless—two factors that belie the risk involved in this theatrical undertaking.
Putting your life story on stage for all to witness is no easy task—trust me, I know; I have my own Gospel to tell. What if audiences don’t like it, what if they say that your work, your theatricalization of your life is no good? That would be the worst thing in the world—like, worse than being told you’re not funny or you have an ugly baby.
Ms. Hager takes a huge gamble in creating and performing her life story—and it pays off. She lived in her truth and told her story and the audience connected with her honesty and candor. I imagine if she continues to play her deck wisely and doubles down with Naked in Alaska her future payoff can be huge.
Back to being naked (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Baring one’s soul on a stage—not everyone has that gift. But that doesn’t mean the lesson doesn’t apply all of us.
Whether you’re asking for a promotion, creating some sort of art, or mustering up the courage to ask your crush out for a night at the Cracker Barrel; we have the opportunity to take a (somewhat calculated) risk and share our souls with the person sitting across from us. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Temporary embarrassment? Egg on your face? A dinner alone at the Cracker Barrel? What’s the best thing that can happen? Oh, I don’t know, you get what you wanted!
Speak from the heart. Speak openly and generously, and for the benefit of the other person. Be brave. Show a little metaphorical ankle… or some metaphorical cleavage—oh, la, la. Be vulnerable in your dealings. Ms. Hager does it in her show and it’s taking her on a wild and fulfilling journey.
Get Naked. Play your deck and take that gamble on yourself.
Speaking of naked… this is a big week. I've pre-released my new memoir The Gospel According to Josh: A 28-Year Gentile Bar Mitzvah. It's a completely revealing exposé. Fifteen percent of the pre-release goes to The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Centre for Suicide Prevention in Canada.
About the book:
By the time Josh Rivedal turned twenty-five, he thought he’d have the perfect life—a few years singing on Broadway, followed by a starring role in his own television show. After which, his getaway home in the Hamptons would be featured in Better Homes & Gardens, and his face would grace the cover of the National Enquirer as Bigfoot’s not-so-secret lover. Instead, his resume is filled with an assortment of minor league theatre and an appearance on The Maury Povich Show—a career sidetracked by his father’s suicide, a lawsuit from his mother over his inheritance, and a break-up with his long-term girlfriend.
Tortured by his thoughts, he finds himself on the ledge of a fourth floor window, contemplating jumping out to inherit his familial legacy. In turn he must reach out to the only person who can help him before it’s too late.
Based in part on his acclaimed one-man show, The Gospel According to Josh is a comedic and poignant true-to-life tale of love, loss, struggle, and survival—a gospel account of one young man’s passage into manhood—his twenty-eight-year Gentile bar mitzvah.