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The Artist’s Journey – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #6 - La Jolla Playhouse Blog

The Artist’s Journey – Bernard White of THE WHO & THE WHAT, Journal Entry #6

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By Bernard White

6 – notes from out of time in the who & the what

thursday march 6, 2014 4:07PM

at the peets coffee in La Jolla Village Mall.









is that what this place is called? 

a parking lot full of palm trees.


I had something very important to say.

I’ve now forgotten what it was.


we are down to our last 6 chances to be present in the world of this play before these La Jolla audiences.

but who’s counting.

I am counting.  we’ll live this story 6 more times.

so much can happen between now and the curtain call light cue on sunday around 9PM.

so many of our lives will change in ways we may never have imagined.


here I am, Lord.


the dogma of religion is absolutely an absurd addiction of mankind to cope with the ancient and still present overwhelming  mystery of living.

the rituals, the mystical aspects come as close to the truth that I have ever experienced.

whether it’s a stranger buddhist monk from nepal with a nice smile who leads the service for your dead sister or whether it’s a stranger catholic priest at her bedside moments before you take her off life support.

I don’t want to know why your way is THE way.  I don’t want you to teach me anything.  I don’t want to witness you mask your insecurity with your life’s decisions by trying to convince me.

as if there really were any more safety in numbers.

I crave your kindness.  I crave your love.  I crave your gentleness and even your vulnerability in the face of one of life’s greatest mysteries.


I need you to get out of the way as much as you are able and allow for the Grace of God.

though, not even your awkward lack of wisdom can obscure the healing and loving Grace of God.

thank you, God.

for Your Grace.











this play is all about the who and the what. 

I believe it is a love story that moves from the what to the who.

as Galway Kinnell put it;

“from love, you think, into enduring Love.”

it’s like the lower case and the upper case with the word “god”.

there is no god but God.

there is no love but Love.

time for us all to relax.


it’s 4:24.  time for me to go home.

been out all day.  saw WINTER’S TALE at THE OLD GLOBE.

enjoyed it with a house full of eager students.  the best audiences.

the innocence.  the eagerness.  the honesty.

young man next to me, Ken, was curious as to what time period the play was set in.  was curious why they were wearing modern clothes.

out of time.


Shakespeare, in his later days, playing with forms and structure.

setting up tragedy and turning it to comedy.

people dying.  people being brought back to life.

no explanation necessary.

why not.

seriously.  why not.

“oh that men could be as free as fleas on the bodies of men.”

also from Galway Kinnell.  his THE BOOK OF NIGHTMARES.  I highly recommend it.


as far as Afzal’s concerned;  Ryan was all about THE WHAT.  perhaps on an unconscious level, but, nevertheless, to Afzal, Ryan was all about the what.

his sophistication.  his east coast sharpness of mind.  his confidence.  his liberal cultural catholic laziness.

Ryan could talk about god, but failed to give Afzal an experience of god.

Eli is all about the who.  the who.  faith.  spirituality.  mysticism.  “serving people, rather than trying to bring them into the ummah.”









I believe there is room for even more conflict between Eli and Zarina.  between me and Eli.  between me and Zarina 

conflict is all about the what.

a hope for the planet is to see below the illusion, the mask, of the what.

to tenderly love the who.


we can survive with all the conflicts of the what if we love the who.


friday march 7, 2014 12:26

in the am.

5 to go.  now 5.

time to sleep.



no joke.  I am writing again exactly 12 hours later.

at peets, again.

so much life has happened since I last wrote.  who knows what horrors and joys in the Ukraine.

the cast had breakfast at Elijah’s this morning.  listened to each other’s stories of starting out in acting.









such courage, vulnerability and strength. 

what people do with their precious lives.

it never ceases to amaze me.


okay, I have 20 minutes before I pick Mohammed up to go to Friday prayers so. . .

let’s talk about God and sex and love;

I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.


got an email for Meera with a link to her Broken Box Mime Theater Troupe.

watched the youtube video.

this is what I’m talking about;

the courage and risks and visions and dreams that ignite us and guide us.

the things we run from in order to be successful.

God, make me brave.

God, make us brave.  to take the risks of the “unsuccessful.”

to express that thing which unexpressed is the cause of war and other tragedies.

so much to say.

time to be quiet and listen.


saturday march 8, 2014 12:14

in the am.

4 to go.











feel like I’m learning and discovering a lot as we continue, gear up for the final stretch of the river, this weekend.


religion is all about the what.

God is all about the who.

unconditional love.


at the mosque today.

example of being concerned with the what;

the imam reporting that some folk last week were handing out bibles outside the mosque after friday prayers.  trying to provoke, he said, the congregation to react negatively.  he claims they were trying to start a fight.

example of being concerned with the who;

the imam told them, it was up to them not to fight back.

example of being concerned with the what;

christian militants are decapitating and mutilating muslim corpses in the streets of cities in Central African Republic.

example of being concerned with the who;

a catholic priest is shielding muslims in his church, risking his own life, fending off the so called “christian” militants.


there was a woman in a hijab (the headscarf) sitting in the front row house right on Thursday night.

the mostly white audience was laughing in places that made me very uncomfortable.  they laughed at the line “in Pakistan, she would be killed for this, killed.”

I wonder what they found funny.  perhaps nervous laughter?

but there were other places they were laughing and my attention went to this one woman in the hijab.

I was troubled.


I could care less about “the what” of religions.

I want to grower deeper in my embrace of “the who.”  the people living in faith.

the nuances, perhaps, between the arabic words deen and iman.

religion and faith.


Jackie just said good night.

we were watching the CNN series about her hometown of Chicago.  Kimberly, our director’s hometown as well.

Robert Redford executive produced it.

talking about the gang violence.  the war zones in the city.

the learnt behavior in the gang mentality.

“when one prefers one’s own children to the children of another, war is near.” -the mahabarta

to see below the illusion, the mask, of the what.

to tenderly love the who.

as Galway Kinnell puts it;

and if you commit then, as we did, the error
of thinking,
one day all this will only be memory,
as you stand
at this end of the bridge which arcs,
from love, you think, into enduring love,
learn to reach deeper
into the sorrows
to come; to touch
the almost imaginary bones
under the face, to hear under the laughter
the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
the mouth
which tells you, here,
here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones. 

The still undanced cadence of vanishing.


Jackie’s sleepy head sprouting hair in the moonlight.


next week we will walk the red carpet in front of the el capitan theater in Hollywood at the premiere of CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER.

press people will ask me questions.  to bide their time.  as they wait for the real movie stars to arrive.

their eyes will be wandering from me and my wife.

looking for that shinier object. 

in desperate search of the what.

God/Allah/Mother, give me the grace to see the who of these press people.

to remember principal Liz Doezer doing her work on the south side of chicago.

walking barefoot trying to keep her children safe.

no red carpet.

only love,


learn to reach deeper
into the sorrows
to come; to touch
the almost imaginary bones
under the face, to hear under the laughter
the wind crying across the black stones. Kiss
the mouth
which tells you, here,
here is the world. This mouth. This laughter. These temple bones.

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.