We’ve heard the marriage vows. Some of us have even stood at the altar uttering those words of matrimony to “love and honor one another until death do us part.” For Samuel A. Simon and his wife, Susan-a couple who will soon celebrate a 50 year marriage-the bleak reality of Susan’s cancer diagnosis in the Spring of 2000 gave their vows a lasting and meaningful significance which exemplify and honor their lifetime committment to one another.
The Actual Dance , written and performed by Simon, is his solo account of first receiving news that a presumably benign lump had been found on Susan’s breast through a later diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer. The idea of “waltzing into death” hardly seems like the type of uplifting theatrical fare. For the Simon family, it was more akin to a living nightmare. Yet under the direction of director Kate Holland and Samuel’s poetic style , The Actual Dance becomes a life affirming ode to committment and boundless love.
Simon opens his story with a matter of fact analogy that all of us will one day dance in a celestial ballroom. Upon hearing the news of his wife’s medical reports, he describes how he could see and hear the orchestra begin to form (his intuition that it may be the beginning to his beloved wife’s end). He then chronicles the frequent doctor visits, frustration with the medical community, and his wife’s immense ability to simultaneously keep her husband strong and face her own mortality. While this description of those details is swift, Simon’s recalls each painstaking moment with profound and descriptive clarity. His approach leaves the audience with a reflection of those who have had to dance this dance with their loved ones and a deep gratitude for the gift of wellness. Simon’s warm, engaging, and kind personality bring even more richness to this wonderful piece of theater and his accomplished musicians, Kristine Kruta (cellist) and Matt Dure (guitarist), add vivid reality to the story. Although he has a legal background and has served in the Army as a JAG Captain,Simon’s greatest role might be that of a caregiver. It is difficult to believe that this is his first play, since his tale is executed with such grace and professionalism.
For many family caregivers, the burden of being there to shoulder family health problems can seem overwhelming. With The Actual Dance , however, Simon is offering a stoic story of hope that is sure to encourage and inspire.
The Actual Dance plays through Feb. 1st at Theater Row (W. 42nd between 9th and 10th ave.). It is also available to be performed in a variety of venues upon request. For tickets, Samuel’s blog, videos, visit http://www.theactualdance.com Discounted tickets are available for $16.25 by using code “TRTADCARE” at the checkout
Thanks to the generous support of EmblemHealth https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUthdkimXSzsHfYY_VuJAyvyuOTmCIqee , the play also offers a post-show talk back on the work and a chance for audiences to reflect on their own experience. At this particular performance, the talk back was led by Rev. Gregory Johnson, Director of Emblem Health’s Care for the Family Caregiving Program.