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THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #4 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

THE ARTIST’S JOURNEY – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #4

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It’s the newest edition of The Artist’s Journey with THE WHO & THE WHAT cast member Bernard White. Bernard has been generous and gracious enough to share the journal entries he’s been keeping of the experiences he’s been having and the thoughts that have been brewing during his time with this Playhouse production.

There are fewer than two weeks left to catch this play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Ayad Akhtar! Experience it before it closes on March 9 and buy your tickets here.

By Bernard White

4- notes from out of time in the who & the what

saturday february 22, 2014 12:52PM

see, I would much rather see the 2/22/14.  but would rather make a thing of it than change it.

who cares.


at the Peets Coffee Joint in the mall.  on my way to the matinee.

I am telling myself this story;  that I am at the bottom of a treacherous and overwhelming mountain that I will finish climbing at the curtain call on sunday evening.

reality;  4 shows in two days of a play that when surrendered to, plays itself.

I have a life long track record of making things more difficult than they are.

Allahu Akhbar.


time to go to the theatre.  my sissy sugar free almond milk latte will come along for the ride.



family night at the theater.  the poetry of Kai’s two daughters being in the audience.  Kai, just like Afzal.

and Meera’s mother.  who knows what it means to carry on.  to be both mother and father.  Meera’s mother, just like Afzal.

Van Morrison’s THE HEALING GAME comes to mind.


now camped out for the night, half way up this weekend’s mountain.

so far, we haven’t lost anyone.  we’re strong.  ready for a good night’s rest.

Kai sure deserves one.  he’s a good man.  good man.

his youngest has been sick the last 4 days.  he’s driven back and forth to LA after the shows.

the absolute miracle of loving parents.  so inspiring.



been thinking of these two things;

one – the first play I ever saw in my life when I was 9 years old was SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER starring my sister in the lead at Indiana State University.  Ivy and this play had a major influence on my life.

so, on Wednesday night when we opened.  opening right next door was an UCSD student production of SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.

now that’s something.

I hope I have the chance to see the Wednesday brush up rehearsal.  that would make me very happy.

two – the second thing that’s been on my mind is the fact that my first time in La Jolla, exactly 17 years ago, I was 37 years old.

I am thinking of what a different person I was back then.  just out of a relationship.  on the prowl.  late late nights.  crazy passionate loving community.

very little sleep.

very little daylight sightseeing.









now I’m married.  in bed early.  up early.  enjoying the beauty of La Jolla.

I am more myself.

though I was quite myself back then as well.

here I am, Lord.

who am I this time?


Mohammed, a wonderful young student here at UCSD, accompanied me to the Mosque for Friday Jumma’ah prayers. 

he showed me the ropes.  he told me about his life.  I am deeply grateful for him.

vibrant Islamic community.


it is good to be here.


so we opened on Wednesday night.

it feels good to be open.

to stay open.

to stay open.

feels good.


sunday 2/23/14 8:50

in the a.m.

seriously;  is it not absolutely clear and obvious that each one of us is a messenger of G-d?

Islam.  submission.  submission to what?  of course to G-d.  only to G-d.

submission to one’s calling.  the calling to be G-d’s messenger.

whether one’s an usher or on the stage management crew or an actor or director or writer.

oh the vital importance to being true to the call.

I believe where I, where many of us go wrong is in the lack of devotion to that call.  the embracing it.  submitting to it.

embracing the humility this sort of submission requires.

off broadway and broadway New York and regional theater are junk yards of people-pleasing eclipsing devotion to the call.

what do I know?

they are laboratories of commerce.  they are, in my humble opinion, far from the first half of the shahadah.

“Ash-hadu an la ilaha illa Allah”

I believe there is no God but God.

okay stop.

I can only speak for myself.  myself in regional theater.  myself in New York.

I live between the tension of relaxing into the perfection of it all and the holy striving that Dante spoke of.

it is, the play, as it should be.  as it is.

my work each day is right on time.  “here I am, Lord”.

but as Willy Loman’s wife said;  attention must be paid.

I must risk telling the truth (from my limited vision/from my true calling/my deep listening to the one God (the source/the higher power beyond my limited vision – my unconscious – my natural Self).

stop trying to please and do the thing.  do I want to be a good actor or do I want to be a good actor.

and where does kindness fit in?

I am called to be less afraid.

al Hamdullilah.


the question to Ayad and Reza.  do you consider yourselves Rasul Allahs?

the necessary deflection and joking.  the genuine humility underneath.  the masking over of natural human arrogance.  narcissism.

“we all got it, Eli, you’re just putting it to better use than the rest of us”

then that woman’s question to them about could their place as entertainers/academics graduate them to “peacekeepers”.

of course it could.  of course they are.

here’s a thought;  Reza and Ayad go on tour across america.  real humble tour.  not as flashy as Cornel West and Tavis Smiley.

a prius.  they drive themselves.  Gabe goes along.

smaller venues.  not a lot of hoopla.

they meditate together/individually.  they get quiet.  they then have these dialogues on art and religion and G-d.

they spread the message/the gospel of Love and humility and tolerance and wisdom beyond knowledge.

instead of going on Fox News or even the Daily Show.


what am I doing with MY life?


after the show, how I love to come home to Jackie.


















during the show, how I love to be in that room, that sacred space, sharing in that miracle.









pretending for real.










so easy for me, when inspired by two lovely men like Ayad Akhtar and Reza Aslan to then prescribe and dream paths for them. 

precious Lord, take my hand, lead me on, help me stand.

dear G-d;  give me the Grace to listen closer to Your directions to MY path.

the Grace for the small thing.

today, for example, this moment, for example.

the ending of this entry.

gratitude for presence.



the mountain metaphor is not useful.

gonna switch to a river.

ready to hit final stretch of the river for this week.  our sunday evening show.

rest on the banks tomorrow.  throw in, again on tuesday.

let the river take us.


Mike from the office gave me and the play its greatest compliment, after opening.

he said seeing the play made him want to go home and hug his child.

talk about peace keeping.

and today Meera’s sister and brother in law.  the catharsis they felt.  the healing.

their kind words.

I am letting these things touch my heart.

here I am, Lord.

so blessed and grateful.

with love,










A veteran actor, Bernard White has performed extensively on stage, film and TV. La Jolla Playhouse: Dogeaters and The Seven. Off-Broadway: Blood and Gifts (Lincoln Center); Landscape of the Body (Signature); Sakharam Binder (Play Company); The Death of Garcia Lorca (Public). Regional: Troilus and Cressida and Henry V (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Art (East/West Players); Wings of Desire (American Repertory/Toneelgroep Amsterdam); Blithe Spirit and Lucy and the Conquest (Williamstown).  Film: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Vino Veritas, Miss India America, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Quarantine, The World Unseen, American Dreamz, Land of Plenty, Raising Helen, The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions, Scorpion King, Pay It Forward and City of Angels. Selected TV: Silicon Valley, Grey’s Anatomy, Touch, Castle, The Good Wife and NCIS, among others.