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Thoughts from a Musician's Heart

STANDING TRUE by Zsófia Mózer

Not too long ago I was part of an opera production in a theater. This was my first job after Covid, and I was very grateful and extremely happy to finally be back on stage. The stage director unfortunately chose me to be the one she was going to pick on from first rehearsal day on. No matter what I did, it simply could not be right.

She would make mean remarks, telling me things like “you can’t even walk on stage, it looks terrible”. She would make me do a scene twelve times in a row and still not like any of it. She would roll her eyes, humiliate me in front of my colleagues and then ask me “You’re not going to cry, are you?” (I didn’t.) And one time she grabbed my hair and pulled my head, while giving instructions. (At that point I did say that that was crossing a line and it was unacceptable to me.) Nothing I did was approved of, no simple task I was told to do, could I do right.

For weeks, I was resting strong in the knowledge that I was exactly where God wanted me to be. After a while I started to question my abilities and was becoming afraid to do anything on stage for fear of constantly being wrong. Since it was my first production at that theater, and I’m a young singer, I did not want to say anything to my boss and sound like I’m complaining.

In a small Christian group I shared my struggles about the stage director. People prayed for me to be able to handle the situation well. Interestingly, I started to see the hurt woman behind the actions of the director. Yes, she was mean to me. Yes, it was practically workplace bullying. Yes, this frightening hierarchy of the theater should have a system change. Yes, it was unfair, and I was angry. And yes, I often cried after rehearsals. Yet, every time she was mean to me from then on, I didn’t hear her exact words. I heard the hurt, the pain, the injustice that had been done to her some time, somewhere. She didn’t become kinder to me, but her words lost their edge for me.

There was this one particular moment when I was on stage and she was standing above me. She was looking over in the direction of the conductor, waiting. I looked at her face and started to silently pray for her.

A few days after this, I accidentally ran into her on the street after an evening rehearsal. She started venting to me about how stressed-out she had been. I just listened and occasionally asked a question. After quite some time she said the following words to me: “I’m sorry I’ve been such an a⋆⋆hole to you. The character you’re playing is so hard for me to interpret, and I didn’t know where I wanted to go with it.”

All that time, I had been praying that I would be able to handle the situation well, that I would have wisdom when and how to speak, and that she wouldn’t be able to destroy me with her words or actions.

But God gave me something I would have never even thought to ask for: she apologized. This strict, harsh, cold woman apologized to me. I do believe that healing was happening in both of us.


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