Great Moments in New York Theater: Laura Linney in Time Stands Still
Pat and I came to these parties very early. The parties of which I speak are the Laura Linney party, the Brian d’arcy James party and the Alicia Silverstone party. Once we were at these parties, we determined that we would be their until the hosts kicked us out. We have always been proud to say that we are fans of Miss Silverstone, who (naturally) we came to love (like all) in Clueless (I have the movie in my Ipod) – but her work goes so far beyond that one movie. She can do, truly, anything. From comedy to drama, from film to tv and, now, to Broadway, she is a craftsman. I want her to do a musical next – just to prove she can. For me. Just for me. Of course, once I heard Brian James sing one single sentence in Titanic, I have been on board. He is one of my favourite (there are four) Broadway boy voices and one of my favourite people (if you ever get the chance to work with him, take it). He is a beautiful actor and it’s a treat to see him in a non musical. And then there is Laura Linney. I need not say much about Laura Linney except for these two sentences:
1) When my book came out, I asked someone who they thought was the biggest star in The Sweater Book. They replied: Laura Linney.
2) I believe Laura Linney is the Julie Harris of her generation.
So. Great cast. Great play. Great dialogue. All of it: great, great, great. If you saw it, you know. If you live outside of New York and didn’t see it, you must be aware of the award nominations. If you live in New York and didn’t see it, you can; because it is reopening in a different Broadway theater (with Alicia Silverstone’s role being played by the wonderful Christina Ricci). This experience was destined to be one of my favourites on the New York stage. There simply wasn’t any way around it. It was, though, a certain factor of the play that made it, personally, one that I will always remember.
Laura Linney plays a photographer in the play. The first sentence out of her mouth (I seem to remember) was “where are my cameras?” The character spends the play trying to find her way back to her passion, her love, her artwork, her raison d’etre. She suffers a crisis of faith (or faithS, rather, since she questions many things in her life – especially her vocation). By the end of the play (spoiler alert!) she has found her way back to her cameras, to her artistry, to her true calling, even at the expense of her marriage; and, in the final moment of the play, we see her pick up her camera for the first time, focus it into the audience and snap a photo.
I was completely undone.
In 2003 my book was released. Nobody bought it. That is, of course, a sweeping generalization. My friends bought copies. My parents bought copies to give away. The majority of the printing, though, ended up on the auction block at a remainder sale, a year later. My first outing had tanked and nobody would hire me, nobody would publish me, nobody could look me in eye. I lost my dream and my passion. I lost my will to shoot. I no longer enjoyed the work and I was, particularly, tired of being the photographer nobody would hire. I figured it was better to be the photographer who retired, rather than the photographer nobody would hire. So I retired. Two years later, feeling empty and needing my art once more, I picked up my cameras, only to find that everyone had forgotten about me – and that I had been replaced by digital photographers. It has been a long road to a new place, a new frame of mind, a new way of life; but I got to where I am, today. I work when I want to. I pick up my camera when it interests me. When people ask me what I do, I do not say I am a photographer. I answer any other way that I can; but never that way.
Watching Laura Linney, one of the greatest actresses we know and one of my favourites (also, like Brian James, one of the nicest and kindest persons ever to grace me with their presence for a photo shoot), play a character that cut so close to home, was especially cathartic for me. I felt like I didn’t need to take a journey back to my cameras; Laura had done it for me and allowed me to watch. I didn’t ever need to look through the lens again: the image of Laura doing it at the end of Time Stands Still would be in the foreground of my memory forever; she would be looking through the lens.
In a moment that I remember at least once every day, Alicia Silverstone tells Laura Linney that she always found her photos (of war ravaged countries and people) beautiful. She stops and remarks that it is probably wrong to say that, that they are BEAUTIFUL. Laura’s character replies something like “I always think they’re beautiful; but I’m their mother.”
Pat grabbed my hand and squeezed it, tight, hearing the stifled but audible sobs caught in my throat.