Wednesday, 26 January 2011

I auditioned for the play to learn empathy

I did!  I wanted to experience a play from the actor side because in Uka I'm always on the side of power, on the director's team, and I figured it would be good for me to scare my pants off by auditioning so I could empathize with the poor students shaking up there on the stage during auditions.  Then I got the part (I actually didn't see that one coming) so now I get to have my pants scared of by actually being in a play--empathy by the bucketloads being one result.  Of course, I also auditioned because I remember pining away for acting regularly during my years in PNG, and here was my chance--not everything I do is motivated by a desire to benefit my little middle schoolers!, though they do feature prominently, actually.  So, collecting observations from the point of view of someone who helps high school students put on plays, here's what I've learned so far.

I'm much, much, MUCH more nervous about rehearsals than I ever imagined I'd be.  Such pressure!  I don't even get so preoccupied about speaking in churches or other things that usually terrify people, but play practice--!  I'm not a nervous person, usually, but the adrenaline before those early rehearsals!  Even now, three weeks in, the hour or so before a rehearsal finds me with elevated heart rate and churning stomach.  Gaah!  Do my students feel this?

Some obvious ones:
You can have a line memorized perfectly at home and be a total dud at rehearsal.
And the corollary:  the line you get perfectly today and yesterday and at every previous rehearsal will be the one you flub up tomorrow. 
And the empathetic realization: you want to appologize and be forgiven, but this is tedious to the director, so you don't, but you just feel dumb and mad at yourself instead.

Being interrupted makes it harder to go back and do the scene over again.  Once you loose your head it stays lost for a while.

It's nice not being on the production team.  I can relax and just act! Whee!  I'm an actor! 

I have learned good characterization skills over the years, and am enjoying putting them into practice.  I keep discovering new things about my character!  This is such a fun process!  And watching my fellow cast members give stunning performances rehearsal after rehearsal--I learn a lot from them.  This is so cool!  Is this why we put on plays in Uka?  Whee!  Sign me up! 

Being on a cast of adults is quite different from a production of teenaged actors and techies.  We goof off as much, but the starting level of emotional and mental resources to draw on is greater, and we are better trained.  We can cut to the chase.  There's more spontaneous generation of character and movement and not all the wooden, poseable robot stuff that goes on sometimes with young actors.  Maggie this one's for you:  we're not afraid to touch each other. 

It's interesting observing a very different style of directing--quite useful. 

I wish we prayed more at rehearsal (as in, we don't at all) but this is becoming one of those boring themes of my life that you can hear me repeat and repeat:  Pray more!  Pray more! 

I had another few good observations saved up to write down, but I can't seem to recall them.  Time to go back to writing another paper, then go to bed.  Good night!  Come see us perform on Feb 18, 19, 25 & 26.

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