Luke, the player cast as Sinclair Everett, asked me to play his wife Mary in a black box scene. He knew what he wanted the outcome of the scene to be – that the marriage would end in divorce – but he wasn’t sure how it would play out. He wasn’t sure yet how he envisioned Mary’s character, if the breakup would be amicable or not, etc.
He’d also asked Jamey (AKA Simon and later Artie) to help by directing the scene. Jamey suggested that we start playing out a few scenes in several different ways, and that at key moments he would stop us and ask, “Is that how it happened?”
We started with Sinclair coming out to Mary. Mary was doing some chores in the kitchen when Sinclair comes home after a long weekend “campaigning.” Sinclair tries to come out to her, but she is in denial.
“I have to tell you something.” Sinclair says.
“What is it?” I dry my hands on a dish towel and turn to face him.
“It’s serious. You might want to sit down,” he says.
My eyes widen. “What is it? Are you sick? What’s going on?”
“No, no, I’m fine. It’s not that.” He hesitates. “I’m just not sure how to say this.”
“Sinclair, you’re scaring me. Oh my god, is it drugs? It’s drugs, isn’t it?”
“CUT.” Jamey says. “Is that how it happened?”
Luke pauses very briefly, then says, “No.”
“Okay, let’s try it again.” Jamey turns to me. “This time, you’ll be angry.”
We start over.
“I have to tell you something.” Sinclair hesitates. “But I’m not sure how to say it.”
I dry my hands on a dish towel and turn to face him. “You’re gay.”
He gapes at me. “You knew?”
“Of course I knew,” I spit, my voice dripping with venom. He recoils as though I’ve hit him. “You haven’t touched me in years.” Sinclair is silent as I glare at him. “Well? Do you have it?”
He looks perplexed for a second, then understanding dawns on his face. “No! Mary, no.” He reaches out for me, but I take a step back.
“I can’t believe you’re doing this now.”
“I know. I’m sor–“
“Have you even thought about how this might affect our children, if this gets out? How do you think people will react? They’ll be laughingstocks. We all will.” Sinclair gapes at me, seemingly at a loss for words. I take a deep breath, trying to calm down, but my anger takes control. “Get out.”
“Mary.” He takes another step toward me. “I–“
“Get. Out,” I say again, loudly and more forcefully. Sinclair freezes in shock. I lift one shaking hand and point to the door. “Get out, get out, GET OUT!”
“CUT.” Jamey’s voice interrupts the scene. “Is that how it happened?”
Sinclair looks down at his shoes sadly. “Yes,” he says softly.
We chat as players for another moment. For the next scene, we decide that the characters will reconcile and agree to stay together, for their children’s sake.
I enter the bedroom to put the laundry away and freeze when I find Sinclair in there, packing a bag. I hadn’t even heard him enter the house. We look at each other awkwardly. He places the pile of clothing from his hands into a suitcase that lay open on the bed. “I’ll be out in a few minutes.”
I hesitate, then walk over and pick up some of the clothing from his suitcase. “What are you…” His voice trails off as I place it back inside the dresser drawer.
“We have to be strong. For the children.”
I can feel his eyes boring into me. “So… I can come back?”
My voice is quiet as I reply. “Yes.”
His relief is palpable, his body visibly relaxing. He moves closer and takes my hand, holding it in both of his own. “I’m going to be better. I’m going to spend more weekends at home. A lot more.”
I nod silently, sitting down stiffly on the bed. “And I want you to call your doctor. You need to get some help.”
“Yes, of course. Anything you want.” He kneels down in front of me. “Do you really want to do this? Can we be a family, for the children?”
I look into his earnest face. Pulling my hand away, I answer him honestly. “No. And yes.”
“CUT. Is that how it happened?”
Luke nods almost immediately. “Yes.”
Luke then points out that we still don’t have the desired outcome of the failed marriage, so we fast forward a few months. Sinclair has been home even less than he was before, if that’s even possible. At least half of that time really was for campaigning, but he’s been spending more and more time with Nate at Club Diamond. He comes home in the middle of the night, drunk.
I am laying in bed, wide awake, when I hear the front door open. I wait until Sinclair stumbles into the bedroom and closes the door behind him to speak.
I don’t move from my position on the bed. “Where have you been.” My tone is low and cold, more of an accusation than a question.
He jumps guiltily. “I was… campaigning,” he slurrs slightly.
“Bullshit,” I snap. “It’s 3am.” I sit up in bed, glaring at him. “You were at that bar again, weren’t you?”
He is silent. He doesn’t admit it, but he also doesn’t deny it.
“You missed your son’s baseball game,” I tell him. “Again.”
He looks dejected. “I know. And I’m sorry–” he says again.
I cut him off. “How do you think this makes me feel?”
He shakes his head, not meeting my eyes. “I can’t even imagine how you must feel right now,” he says softly.
“CUT.” Luke and I pause, glancing up at Jamey. “Switch places,” he says. Jamey points to Sinclair. “You’re now Mary.” He turns to me. “And you’re Sinclair.” My eyes widen. Brilliant! Luke and I switch places. “Now, pick up exactly where you left off.”
I shake my head sadly. “I can’t even imagine how you must feel right now.”
“I can’t do this anymore. You need to leave.”
“No. Mary, no. We can make this work.” I take a step toward her.
“Don’t touch me,” she hisses. I flinch. “We’re through. I want a divorce.”
Her hands come up in front of her, and I watch in horror as she twists the wedding ring from her finger and flings it carelessly to the ground. As if in slow motion, it bounces off the wall and rolls under the bed.
“I’m keeping the house. And I’m taking the kids.”
At this, I fall apart. “No. No, no, no. please, no!” I’ve falled to my knees, begging and groveling at her feet. I don’t even remember how I got there. “You can’t do this to me!” I bawl. Mary steps away from me in disgust. “You can’t take my children away from me!”
“CUT. Is that how it happened?”
Luke sniffles, wiping a tear from his eye. “Yes.”