Sid Homan is one of my favorite things about the University of Florida. Not only is he an innovative, passionate, and engaging Drama professor, but he has also lived an incredible life. This is a guy who has marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., and conversed with Allen Ginsberg. He brought a troupe to nine different Florida state prisons, performing and discussing Waiting for Godot with the prisoners. His stories are amazing.
A story he told today was particularly moving. For a time he volunteered at the local hospital’s psychiatric ward, doing improv exercises and acting workshops with teenagers. He particularly took note of a girl named Janet who, as a former abuse victim, had not spoken a word for two years. She lived in her own private shell, and Sid understood this and never tried to push anything out of her.
One day, he was doing a game of Improv Freeze Tag with the group and out of nowhere, he heard a “FREEZE!” from Janet. Doctors and nurses came rushing over upon hearing Janet’s first word in years as she entered the game with Sid. For five minutes—an eternity in improv—she performed what Sid considered to be some of the best improv he had ever seen. She was hilarious, helpful, and appeared to be having the time of her life.
As Sid was leaving for the day, she called out to him. “Do you know why I finally spoke up today, Sid?”
“No, Janet, why?”
“It’s because of Theater. The theater is neither completely real nor completely made up. It’s halfway between both. And that’s where I feel like I am in my life right now—halfway towards living my life again.”
So, I’ll see you again next week?”
It’s so incredible to know that there can be a tangible point at which our lives change, at which we feel confident and comfortable with ourselves. Like Lucky in Godot or Janet or anyone, there are words inside of us that often need just the right impetus to be delivered. Hearing about Janet made me simultaneously want to do everything in my life at once and savor every tiny moment.
I’ve found my impetus.