The DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival
The Actual Dance is an award-winning play that has moved audiences to laugh, cry and then cheer for five years. A love story with a happy ending, The Actual Dance is told through the eyes and heart of a husband as he struggles with his worst fears in what everyone expects to be his wife’s losing battle to breast cancer.
In the hour-long performance, and with original music, the story takes the audience on an emotional but uplifting journey that rewards them with an unexpected happy ending, and a universal, life-affirming lesson of hope and faith.
The Actual Dance is a graceful and inspiring love story. It is theater that opens a rare window into the mind and soul of a husband and caregiver. Audiences are transfixed as the actor weaves in and out of a mystical ballroom getting ready to do what he could not imagine.
When first noticing his wife at the age of sixteen, Sam could not predict the profound connection they would share—they are two halves of the same whole. In their 33rd year of marriage, that love was tested…and the ringing in Sam’s ear was not as one would expect, in fact it was an orchestra, playing the music of his life--The Actual Dance.
Written by Samuel A. Simon Directed by Kate Holland Dramaturg Gabrielle Maisels
Original Music composed by Eli Katz Zoller
Introducing Samuel A. Simon:
The Actual Dance has been inside me for a long time, I just did not know it. It has been unfolding for about five years, as elements of the show have appeared through my work with Artistic New Directions and teachers Carol Fox Prescott, Gary Austin and Jeffrey Sweet.
Elements of the show have been discovered along the way. One major character in the show, the breast surgeon, was developed during a Gary Austin workshop called the 48th Street Exercise. The Ballroom metaphor came together in Carol Fox Prescott’s acting classes.
The Actual Dance became full-born when I hired Gabrielle Maisels as my dramaturg and she guided me through completing the work. And since completing in chief the script in June 2012, I have learned that the show itself has a deep gift within it – and that each time I perform I learn new things about the work and the gift.
It has broad appeal and presents a point of view that is almost never heard. It is the man’s story and voice in the breast cancer experience. It is a love story. And it is a story that explicitly talks about confronting the most dreaded possible experience – taking the person you love most in the world through the end of life. It isn’t about their story—it is about “How do I do this? How do I dance the last dance with (Susan)?” It is about moving from the fear of a “devastating and tragic experience” to an understanding of “the beauty and dignity” of the gift of the Actual Dance and that “it will be the ultimate consummation of our love.”
The audience reaction and feedback is what energizes me to continue the development and performance. From the first reading and for each reading and now performance, someone – and usually many -- in the audience are in some way changed or transformed by the show. A few of the audience reactions that I have received:
“I never understood why my wife reacted to my cancer the way she did, now I know.” “It changed my life.” “I am still living in the glow of last evening…and your singing the Hebrew Prayer totally blew me away. It was brilliant…” “I want to tell you again how much your play moved me. Parts of it have kept coming into my mind when I least expect it. It was so powerful, sweet and tender, and at the same time gut-wrenching and full of pain and anguish…”
Through performance and engagement with audiences I have come to understand that there is a hunger for this topic. The experience of writing and performing this play has also transformed me. I have begun to write poetry based on the play. I invite you to look at the poetry at www.theactualdance.com
Date: Sunday - June 23, 2019 @ Time: 5:00PM
Date: Monday - June 24, 2019 @ Time: 7:00PM
Location: Anacostia Playhouse - 2020 Shannon Place SE Washington, DC