A friend of mine is performing in "It's a Wonderful Life" this week as the character of Mary Bailey. I told her that I got to play that part once and that wish I could do it again, but do it better. She has been struggling recently with the character and asked what I would do differently if I had the chance, so I sent her an email in case it might be helpful in any way. I had no idea that when I read over my email again it would sound like I was writing about myself and not Mary. The character of Mary is someone I can really relate to and even learn from today. I love that I wrote this objectively for a friend, but now find personal significance in what I said about the character. First, let me share with you the email:
"I think if I could play the part of Mary again, I would add more humor and boldness to her line delivery and whole persona. I played her too sweet and timid, when really I think she's rather forward and obvious about what she wants. She is proactive and confident without overstepping her role or place as the lady (both in her relationships and in her community). I played Mary before I was a wife and mother. And now I know what it's like to step up and take responsibility in life (especially when others around you are timid and unsure). I think I can relate to her a lot more now and would give her more spunk and energy to the point where she might fight a little more for the spotlight, so to speak. Not because she is needy, but because she is aware and ready for it. She is a much-needed character of stability in this play because George is the one fighting the personal battle.
Alternate-reality Mary is not so complicated in my opinion. You don't have to know much about her because she is supposed to be a stranger. Mysterious, dead to George and the audience. That's what makes that part so sad. I would not be afraid to be disconnected from her because I think that's what she is with herself. Pretty depressed, dull and lacking purpose. She's just the opposite of what the real Mary is.
Hope this helps you. It was fun to reflect a little on that character! I wish you all the best on your performance. You are a wonderful Mary, I'm sure. The more I think about her the more you seem to suit her rather well.
God bless you!
Whoa. First of all, I find myself daily trying to make up for the "weaknesses" in others or do what others are not in order to keep life moving as I think it should. Most of the time I am annoyed at either myself for always taking on that role or annoyed at others for not being more productive or efficient. Not a way to live! But now, looking at Mary, I see how this personality of mine can be very good for the people in my life when it is not an issue of control but rather of love and serving where it is needed. That confidence and forwardness has been very beneficial and is doing a lot of good in all areas of my life and I should not learn to dislike myself because of it (although it shows up in unhealthy ways at times). I also see that the battles others are facing can be very crucial to their walk of life, the lessons they learn and their personal growth.
The other eye-opening part of this reflection is the alternate-reality Mary. I have found myself resorting to daydreaming at the end of the day and also when I am particular depressed or exhausted. It seems like a safe and easy place to go when the world is hard to deal with. I can be whoever I want in my head and accomplish or say whatever I want. But who I imagine and who it would feel good to be sometimes is not who I am or necessarily should be. I think I started to realize this about myself when I wrote: "She's just the opposite of what the real Mary is." Then I read that whole paragraph again as if it were about me and it scared me. I have a very important responsibility and purpose in my real life. That makes the daydreaming life rather unappealing to me now. I love the real Mary. She is a wonderful person who in the end changes the whole story around. Because of her, George and the community are saved. And what's best is that everyone comes together in the end for someone other than his or herself. It's what I want in my life. That ending never ceases to bring me to tears. Sacrifice. Community. Love. That's what is needed most.
The only three good snapshots I could find from the play: