I recently had the honor of playing a role which, in addition to being on my acting bucket list, was also one of my favorite characters. Portraying Susy Hendrix from Frederick Knott’s Wait Until Dark, will forever be one of my proudest moments in theatre. I don’t say this because of my own performance, or the overall success of the production itself, as proud as I am of our final product. I say this about the character herself. Susy Hendrix is one of my favorite characters of all time, and she is one of the reasons I am so fond of the play and its film adaptation.
Susy Hendrix is a woman who has recently become blind. Over the course of the play, we see her struggle to adapt to her new life; a world of darkness. As the villains of the story begin to entrap her, she begins to use her blindness to her advantage. Her lack of sight helps her to depend on her other senses, and she begins to “see” through the charade of the con men. Finally, during the play’s climax, she brings the villains into the darkness with her, taking their sight from them by way of removing all sources of light. She uses her blindness as a tool to defend herself and, ultimately, to survive.
This plot point makes for thrilling theater, as the audience finds itself shrouded in darkness along with the actors. But there is so much more to the narrative. Susy takes her weakness, her vulnerability, her brokenness, and transforms it into her greatest triumph. The darkness which weakens her becomes her strength. Rather than remaining helpless, she adapts to her situation and comes out stronger in the end. It is for this reason that I admire Susy as a character, and why I love her story so much.
I don’t know anyone who has led a charmed life. While some appear to be very blessed from the outside looking in, I know that no one lives the perfect life. Each and every one of us suffers from some form of brokenness. Whether from tragedy or misfortune, all have an element which makes them “weak”, even if only to themselves. I have weaknesses. I have faults of every kind. I have physical imperfections, emotional deficits, and spiritual shortcomings. I could make quite a list of my own flaws. Yet, life is not about being perfect. The secret, truly, is to transform. The trick is to take our own brokenness, real or merely perceived, and transform it into our greatest strength. It isn’t easy, in fact, far from it. But if we are able to grow from our shortcomings, it is well worth it. Because I have suffered, I am able to provide understanding and true compassion to those who are struggling. Because I have been weak, I have learned to be strong. Because I am broken, I am able to love others, not in spite of, but because of all their beautiful broken bits. So, let’s embrace our flaws, our faults, our weaknesses. Each one holds within it the opportunity to shine, to become something more. Each cloud has a silver lining. So too do our imperfections, if only we allow them.