We had one evening scene rehearsal. By now, I knew most of the cast, at least by their play-names. We all in the "main cast" had name tags, arranged by name & color. The "Blues" were true believers, like the disciples. The "Reds" were "on the fence", not sure if they wanted to believe or not, waivering at each scene. The "Greens", like me, were never supposed to believe. "Crucify HIM!", we shouted across the room, and after the storm scene, we were never to be seen again.
We rehearsed in a room smaller than any other one we'd been in. It was more to work out the reactions & emotions, rather than the distance to each part of the song. I was the third maiden in the garden to challenge Peter's loyalty to Jesus.
Surely you are one of them!
Your voice gives you away!
Are you trying to say that all of us are wrong?
I tell you I don't know the Man
Now GO! And leave me alone!
Peter was a big guy. It's really that simple. He looked the part of a real fisherman. He could "carry his own" if he needed to. When he confronted back to me (the second color of purple there), it scared me! He really had the part solid. I always tried to be tough, and not let on I was terrified.
John looked at me after our first run-through. "Didn't that frighten you?"
"Of course! He was hollering! Darn right I was scared!"
"Then SHOW IT! It's okay to be intimidated, even in character. BE YOUR PART! Yes, you're challenging him! Yes, you're the last one to "let him have it." Yes, you're a bold little Jewish girl! But when he yells, be afraid! Back up, don't hide the reaction!"
We ran the scene again. Peter came right up to me, and I could feel his breath as he sang. Every other run after that, including all ten performances, we were real, but we were connected. He was always looking for forgiveness, and I was always looking for the end.
I never forgot that. Neither did "Peter". Of course, a few Sunday afternoons later, he pulled me aside, and said, "I never want to scare you. I never want to hurt you. This is the hardest part I've ever played in this thing. It's easier to be a Roman soldier - Every time I'm in that scene, I know it mirrors my life. I let Him down every day in so many things I do. It's easy to tell you "I have nothing to do with Jesus", because I live it so much. But the tears right after the rooster, those are real, too."
I saw Peter a few times after the play group was over. We hugged, we talked, but it was never "right". I was always the Jewish girl with the courage to stand up to him, and he was always Peter, denying Jesus, and feeling terribly sorry for it.
My character was starting to shape me. I felt myself looking at my faith from the outside. The Gospel story became easier to understand from the Jewish perspective. This "Jesus" wasn't the first, and I was sure He wouldn't be the last. Many moms named their kids "Jesus", hoping the child was Him. There were plenty of "healers" walking the streets, claiming to save the world. Why was this Fellow any different? Yet, He had such a crowd with Him. Maybe this was it... Maybe this was the Real Deal?
At the first moment I met Jesus (Rich), it felt heavenly, and real. He never really talked to me, but because of our "name colors", he couldn't. To get us in our parts and to really have us become who we needed to be, we weren't allowed to even say "hi" during rehearsal.
I'll never, ever, ever, forget those eyes. He wasn't my Saviour, and was still only a human actor, but Rich always looked in my direction with a face that said, "I'm doing this for you, too. Just wait, you'll see. Even with your "name color", I'm doing this for you."