“Sophie Lee Morris’ Liesl stands out in beauty and in voice; her duet with Doman in “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” complete with bicycle tricks, was to die for.”
WB: My time playing The Sound of Music only becomes more special as this musical drought goes on. It was an lovely period of artistic growth and social connection that seems like a decade ago, and I long for the next experience like it. Sophie Lee Morris was Liesl for that production, taking the stage captive as a breathtaking singer, dancer, and actress. Her movements and words both on and off the stage are filled with grace and intentionality that permeates her personality. Amidst the bustle and noise of a theatre it was always a treat to converse with someone so quietly joyful and sincere. That sincerity is on display in the story Sophie has shared in this article, a story that I can heavily relate to. I am flattered that she has written for Sonder, please enjoy a beautifully, brutally honest look at the turmoil of artistry.
As 2020 ushered itself in, I found myself on what seemed to be a trajectory towards dreams I never thought would materialize. And then…a true stop. Theatres have shuttered across our country and production has halted. The show that must go on simply can’t. Stop.
The new year always holds an interesting space in my life. It allows me the space to mourn and celebrate all that happened in the past year and then lay it to rest and start anew. This year, the mourning persisted. I had just been a part of something in my career that I was truly proud of and would miss dearly. And, as after every job worked in the theatre, I wondered when I would get to be back on the stage again. Somehow I knew that it wouldn’t be soon. January I mourned. February I mourned. All the while, I was seeing growth in my career that I hadn’t seen before and should’ve been full of optimism. But somehow, my spirit knew.
As the months pass, I find myself on a ride of emotions so quick and abrasive that I have a hard time understanding where I am. I feel a deep gratitude for all the life I have led and for the comfort I somehow sit in during all of this. I also feel the anxious storm that comes with considering giving up the life I love for the sake of stability. To be an actor doesn’t always mean a life of struggle, but it often means a life of dependency in some form or fashion. We give up the simple comforts of living on our own, travel, children, etc. because we know that storytelling offers us a glimpse into eternity. The truth that actors live out over and over again and yet anew each time is like no other experience. We walk into lives that are not our own, circumstances that are not our own, and we grow. We glimpse beyond the temporal. Once you’ve experienced that, how do you give it up?
I don’t know if I can.
I am currently looking for work to fill this time and space I find myself in. And I’m wondering, do I go all in on something new and stable and “real” or do I find something temporary and with an easy out? I’m wondering, is New York still viable or should I move back to Texas where my dollar goes a long way? As I stew over these questions, I have to ask myself all over again: “Is this life worth it? Are all the tears, anxieties, and rejections worth it?” I haven’t truly wrestled with this since moving to New York six years ago. But, I think my answer is still the same as it was back then. I am and always have been in it for the long haul. I won’t be the same performer I was when all of this is said and done; I can’t be. The world has changed and I have changed. I will continue to wrestle with my emotions until I’m uncaged again. Until then, I’ll have to keep reminding myself just how worth it it is.