Toussaint Jeanlouis

What I Create is: Where, When, and How I Live.

Actor, Certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Boxing Instructor.

"I yank down my shorts and shit." When it hits you 'AFTERWARD'

Life has a funny way of reminding you - teaching you of your mortality; sometimes it's play.

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I recently had the honor of working on 'Afterward' by Sam McFeely Goodman directed by Sarah Hughes at The Signature Theater with an amazing ensemble. It was a story about a person in there early twenties forced to come to terms with their own mortality - looking back, attempting to make sense of it all.

"At twelve, [they] had "faced down a disease most people use as short-hand for death, and [they] had come out on top. [They] had won. [They] had survived."

L-R Sam (Michael Clemlow), Sam (Kourtney Rutherford),  Sam (Nic Adams), Sam (Becca Blackwell), Sam (Toussainr Jeanlouis), Sam (Lucy Kaminsky), and Sam (Nikki Calogne).

L-R Sam (Michael Clemlow), Sam (Kourtney Rutherford),  Sam (Nic Adams), Sam (Becca Blackwell), Sam (Toussainr Jeanlouis), Sam (Lucy Kaminsky), and Sam (Nikki Calogne).

I don't know many people who have experienced a serious or life-threatening incident at a young age. When you survive it, the moment that it is confirmed that your body is ridden the bad thing that was harming you, you have something other people your age don't - a unique wisdom - a drive to live fully and be something great - to never return to a state of dependence.

Downstage: Sam (Lucy Kaminsky) 

Downstage: Sam (Lucy Kaminsky) 

Then, one routine check-up can feel like running so fast and taking a leap over a gorge you were sure to land on the other side, being shot with a blunt bullet midair and wondering between two rocks if you'll land on the other side - and if you do, what kind of life will that be then?

I am, will be, forever grateful for the work I have done so far, this year. I knew what I was dealing with when I began the process: I believed I knew what the playwright wanted the audience to know, I knew what was occurring in my personal life, and like the character I was playing, I couldn't, or wouldn't directly deal with it. "And so I did what I do with things that scare me, I try to think my way through the fear." Or, I obsess over healthy routines and exercise, because at least I am nursing a symptom - the best I can humanly do. 'Can we just create another scenario and talk about this in the most hilarious way possible?!' "I yank down my shorts and shit."

L-R Sam (Becca Blackwell) and Sam (Toussaint Jeanlouis) 

L-R Sam (Becca Blackwell) and Sam (Toussaint Jeanlouis) 

As far as I know, my health is fine. It's my grandfather. He has been battling cancer for what seems like forever and I don't - not sure if I remember him before it. The entire time I was rehearsing for this particular piece, I couldn't, wouldn't talk to him about it or really speak to him as much because I think it would have done what it is doing now. I kept praying that I was learning something from this. Sometimes the messages I would learn, I didn't want to hear, or I would find something to distract myself like a peanut butter pretzel.

To be healthy and always remain positive is hard. Afterward, I am able to imagine what it is like to be diagnosed with a terminal illness, be in pain, and want someone to talk to at night. I can hear the running thoughts of a person facing death and living.

There are many questions I'm asking myself now. But something I've learned is, sometimes, no matter how hard it is, the best you can do is just listen. Most times there isn't a hero; there are loved ones. Let them know you love them.

 

Thank you Universe. Thank you Sam. Thank you.