Monday, September 15, 2008


On Friday, we looked back at the amazing cast of African-American actors, including Morgan Freeman, Joe Morton and the late Howard E. Rollins Jr., who appeared on Another World in the early 1980s.

Though we were able to ascertain where all of them, along with co-stars Petronia Paley, Jackee Harry and Reggie Rock Bythewood are now, we did not have an update on Michelle Shay.

Until now:

In the production of "Gem of the Ocean" that opens Wednesday at Seattle Repertory Theatre, Michelle Shay plays the central character, Aunt Ester. After talking to Shay for about an hour Tuesday, I got the impression that she actually is sort of Aunt Ester -- a spiritual, emotional and physical healer and an expert on what is called "post slavery stress syndrome."....

At first as she talks about playing Aunt Ester, Michelle Shay sounds like your usual successful, conscientious actress: memorizing difficult speeches, understanding the character, allowing diverse details to blend into a natural whole that develops and flows.

But eventually Shay starts talking about things that I've never heard, at least not in the context of theater art. Shay believes that drama itself can be a force for healing. "Stories," she says, "are a way of understanding actions and the consequences of actions -- but without paying the price of actually doing those things."

The healing doesn't just happen because of a good story, however. In developing her thesis, Shay mentions Siddha Yoga meditation, the transpersonal healing practices of Laura Fine, Norma Gentile's explorations of the healing qualities of sound and Candace Pert's findings about the physiology of emotion. Also important to Shay are traditional vitality-enhancing practices: reiki, therapeutic touch and "Christ light energy" (as described in the Essene Gospels).

Entire, fascinating interview, here.

The early 1980s episodes of Another World are currently airing on the AOL/PGP Classic Soaps Channel. Check them out here!

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