Blog30

Celebrating the members of the League of Professional Theatre Women

Petronia Paley

Petronia Paley, member of the League of Professional Theatre WomenActor, Director, Playwright, Teacher
New York, New York USA

Reading— A Love Story

I love reading—That solo escape into other times, countries, people, and events; time spent in solitude with the mind and imagination. A book adventure always rested at my bedside waiting the resumption of conversations and relationships after I sank into bed, adjusted my pillow and pulled up the covers. By night, I read novels. Mornings, I preferred the thoughts and prayers of swamis, gurus and spiritual masters, The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhamsa Yogananda being a favorite. Then the inevitable– as my life changed, so did my reading habits. I went from being a working professional actor to one who found I had to paddle my lifeboat faster and harder. I switched from my nocturnal reading pleasure to the daytime study of acting matters: how to teach it and/or what others thought, pondered or recommended about it. After all that due diligence, didn’t I deserve my day’s end reward, but my eyes demanded relief and rest. Elysium was discovered in audio books which seemed a logical choice, being an avid radio listener– the joy having begun as a child while listening to radio soap operas with my grandmother and Sunday sermons with my grandfather. In the serenity of darkness, I rediscovered the beloved Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, which I’d reread at least twice and watched several film versions. Still– I knew that this time Anna would have a happy ending, that she wouldn’t be punished for loving too deeply, that she’d be saved from her impulsivity. The love story genre sweeps us into dangerous and delicious territories of mind, body and spirit. It’s art imitating life: a cautionary tale of the results of loving unwisely. James Baldwin’s Another County is a cautionary tale, a blistering and brutal exploration of love and hate. He writes, “Love takes off the masks we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” Reading the penning of others allows me to take off my mask, to be in the moment, to imagine that perhaps I too can aspire to that illuminated height of writing.

Petronia Paley Playwright: On the Way To Timbuktu (performed) EST (Audelco Award). Actor: Trojan Women, Shakespeare Theatre (Helen Hayes nomination), Classical Theatre of Harlem, Electra (Audelco). TV: Guiding Light, Another World. Directing: Munched SugarValley Theatricals, Antony and Cleopatra TWAS Productions, Kernel of Sanity N FT. Founder of I the Actor. www.itheactor.com, www.onthewaytotimbuktu.com

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