Maureen McDevitt

Galatians 6:2

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

Thanks to John Lewis and his 9/7 article for bringing this to mind.

I got my MFA in Acting from Wayne State University. The program was a semi-professional repertory company called The Hilberry.  The entire operation was student run under faculty direction.  Lilly Tomlin and Jeffrey Tambour both graduated from there.

The first production my first year there was Cyrano De Bergerac. Maureen McDevitt was cast as Roxanne, the female lead.  Maureen was beautiful; long, curly jet-black hair, crystal blue eyes, smile,…the whole enchilada.  As an actor; top shelf.  As a person; very kind and gracious.

At the first off-book rehearsal where everyone was to have their lines substantially memorized, Maureen was struggling. There were whispers off-stage about how everyone else knew theirs’; what’s her problem?  The rest of the leads were a bit miffed.

I could see their point. Everyone gets 24 hours every day, etc.  I started sinking into that, “Yeah!  That’s right!” mindset, but caught myself.  What if something was going on in her life that gave her this setback?  What’s better; criticism & judgment or help?

Remember, this was early on, and no one really knew each other well yet. She’s talented and gorgeous while I’m insecure.  For all I knew, she’d laugh me off, and I’d slink back to my apartment to hug my teddy bear (not really, but…).

I walked up to her as rehearsal ended and invited her to my apartment. I’d make some baloney sandwiches and then run her lines with her.  She gave me that brilliant smile of hers and accepted.  Not wanting to push my luck, I opted to hold off on the marriage proposal.

So we ate, ran lines, and went to the afternoon rehearsal. She did a lot better, much to everyone’s pleased surprise.

Two things happened that day. First, I learned that help is better than criticism.  Second, I learned that being nice to someone like that helps me too!

I spoke to her once since we both graduated. She had done well, making commercials, videos, and such.  But that was largely over, as a genetic disorder had caused her to become blind.  She was still her bright self, but I was sad to learn that those sparkling, crystal blue eyes had gone dark.  You know, I think I’ll see if I can find her again.  Just to hear her voice and remember that smile, those eyes, and a couple boloney sandwiches one more time.

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