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11 August 2020

Finding my happy place

OMSer Max lives in Germany and hasn't let his diagnosis of MS get in his way of being in his happy place, the stage.

My name is Maximilian, or just Max which is what most people call me. I am from Germany and living in a small town close to Frankfurt. I believe I started acting before I even knew what that really is. My first role was a pigeon on the roof of the witch’s house in ‘Hansel & Gretel’ when I was in Kindergarten. At least this is what I was told because I do not remember it. When I was five I became obsessed with ‘The Magic Flute’ and started performing it alone in front of the other children. When I went to primary school I acted in some plays and caught the attention of a friend’s mother who asked me, when I was ten years old, to join a newly found drama group for teenagers and children. Starting with this day it became my most favourite hobby. 

Over the years I joined different groups, mostly in supporting roles but I enjoyed it anyway. It was always a happy place where problems from the everyday life do not matter. Especially the camaraderie in the group of different ages was important to me. Amateur actors just having fun in becoming a different character and diving into a great story. 

In the autumn of 2014, I got a call of a fellow actor and he asked me if I would like to join a production. They were looking for somebody to take over the lead in the comedy ‘The Balcony Scene’. I was so happy to finally get a leading role after almost ten years and in the spring of 2015, we performed it to good reviews from the audience and the press. 

Receiving a diagnosis

Only four weeks after standing on the stage for a cheering audience and experiencing one of my personally biggest successes as an amateur actor I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and my life was turned upside down. I was not able not see properly and felt a numbness in the whole left side of my body which also affected my tongue and therefore my speech. Having just played a leading role, I now wondered if I could ever return to the stage in the future.  

Finding OMS

Gladly a few weeks later the symptoms completely disappeared and during that time I heard of George Jelinek’s inspiring story and began adapting to a plant-based / sea food diet. Over the next months I learnt more about the OMS 7-Step Program and today I eat healthier, am fitter and feel a greater inner balance than before and I am fortunate to not experience any relapse since I was diagnosed. I also attribute a lot to still being able to act. The past five years became the greatest time being on stage. I enjoy it even more going to rehearsals, being creative developing the character I want to play, spending time and working creatively with people who are sharing the same passion. In the end you can only succeed as a group and for the past years I have been part of four fantastic drama groups. 
Personally, I got the chance to perform in some really great plays like the German classic ‘The Robbers’ and ‘The Physicists’ by Friedrich Dürrenmatt, performing as the lead in both plays, and in ‘Rear Window’ as the murderer. But the most prestigious role was the one as Puck in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ by Shakespeare. 

Not only do I appreciate the trust of my two directors and my fellow actors but also their support in my approach to follow the OMS lifestyle. My sister-in-law and co-actress always contributes OMS friendly food and deserts to the buffet of our premiere parties. When we close a production, we usually have a final diner with the whole cast. It is a tradition with one group to order pizza and me standing in the venue’s kitchen waiting for my self-made OMS friendly pizza to be ready, became a part of this tradition. At the other group, my director always checks with me what I can eat and does arrangements accordingly. 

Life in lockdown

With the COVID-19 pandemic we are now facing new challenges. We had to cancel one production two weeks before the premiere in March and for another one we did not even start with the rehearsals. I just hope that we are going to find a way to return to the stage very soon. The first meetings with the different groups are already scheduled and if we are lucky, we could have a few performances by the end of the year. But just meeting the other members of the group and starting the creative process would be great and is something I am really looking forward to. Having fun together. Becoming a different character. Diving into a story. Just the happy place where problems from the everyday life do not matter.