The Sad, Sad End of Acting I

Today was the last day of my Acting I class, and now I feel empty inside. I was not expecting this at all. This week was the last week of class, and we had two separate performances. On Monday, I performed my monologue, from Neil Labute’s play “The Shape of Things”. Today (Wednesday), my scene partner and I performed a scene from “Three Days of Rain” by Richard Greenberg. I played Theo, and my partner played Ned. Both performances were done completely from memory, and both were incredible.

Last week , I was freaking out. I had a rough grasp on my monologue, but didn’t really know my lines for my scene. It was Thanksgiving break, so I couldn’t practice with my scene partner. I ended up running through lines and rehearsing both pieces with my mother and grandmother. It was a blast. We got into it. Really into it. People don’t realize how fun it can be to lose yourself in a character, and step inside someone else’s personality. For that monologue, I got to be Adam (my character) for two minutes, yelling at the girl that just broke my heart. For the scene, I got to be Theo, an strung-out architect with an arrogant side and mean streak. Becoming these characters was the ultimate act of empathy, and like nothing I’ve ever done before.

Anyway, back to the learning lines. The first few run-throughs were rough. Really rough. I made a rehearsal schedule, and ran through the scene three times per day. Every time I practiced, the piece got better. I knew my lines. I started to really understand my them. My emotion came through. I started picking up nuances about the piece. I felt like an actor, not just the nervous student I had been.

By the time I got back to campus, I was ready. I had my monologue down, so now it was just a matter of honing the scene. My partner and I practiced.  We worked on body language and interacting with each other. Things were looking good. We were ready to go. We were still a bit nervous; every time we practiced, we’d drop a line or two. It was small, but noticeable. Hopefully we’d keep our composure on stage. After all, the show must go on.

Today, we did the scene. Everything ran perfectly. The emotion was there. The volume was there. The lines were there. We nailed it. I’ve never felt so alive. I didn’t even see the audience. It was just me and my scene partner up there. The old acting cliché is absolutely true: in an age of constant distraction, we were completely in the moment. In another time, in another place. Theater truly is something else.

When the class ended, I realized I wouldn’t get these feelings again for a while. Boy, I sure am going to miss that. Even outside of the class, though,  I’m grateful for how much the skills I’ve learned in it have helped me in other areas. After the monologue and scene, the presentation I have to do in my Econometrics class is going to be cake.  I no longer get nervous before doing public speaking. I know that I can memorize anything. I know I can take on another persona if I need to. I’ve noticed that in my everyday interactions, I express myself more. I am, literally, more dramatic. Situations that used to be boring are now exciting. I see social interactions in a new way now. I’m aware of how I’m speaking, how I’m standing, how I’m presenting myself. That was something I thought school couldn’t teach. I sure was wrong.