Seen Change

I know you all are just dying to know how my aforementioned (like a couple months ago) drama adventure panned out, and when my next show is…

HA!

My post about improvisational acting mentioned, albeit somewhat facitiously, my becoming a theater buff.  Alas, I have not explained what happened.

Minnetonka Chamber Choir. I'm not in this picture, but for a few years I did stand up there with them.

My non-Thespian background

My past acting experiences have felt somewhat like coersion.

When I auditioned for the local community choir I was thinking Stephen Paulus, Rene Clausen, John Rutter –  you know, the stuff where you stand together, not really moving very much, making gorgeous music all together, as a group, no one individual sticking out. I was not planning on doing anything bold to draw attention to myself like….make a dramatic facial expression, or, maybe, move an arm for anything other than clapping, or – heaven forbid! – turn to my neighbor and interract!!  Egh!! 

I was really not thrilled about singing showtunes (thank you, MAM talent cafe ;-).  I’ve always loved watching musicals and I fantasized about the [im]possibility of being in one, but when I got in to the U of MN women’s chorus I did not anticipate staging scenes from  Quilters (thank you, Kathy Romey). Getting into the U of MN concert choir was thrilling – oh, to finally sing with an SATB ensemble; but then, for the second sememester Matthew Mahaffey roped us into doing Susan Botti’s Cosmosis. It was rather bizarre for my taste at the time.

I’m really not as bitter as I sound.  All of the above experiences turned out to be quite beneficial and enriching. They really weren’t things I would have chosen for myself, but I’m glad I did them.

My Debut

For some reason this time around, though, there was something in me that really wanted to give it a try.  When my friend Elisabeth asked me to join them for the little scene at church I didn’t hesitate to accept.  Coersion does come into play again, though.  Her original claim that I had “like two lines” turned out to be more like two pages. 🙂

The rehearsal was the hardest part.  It was so awkwarrd at first, trying to be acting a certain way when I really just kept thinking, “I’m so not good at this, this isn’t me, I don’t know what I’m doing, they have done so much acting and are so good, Nathan’s in the kitchen listening in and probably is embarrassed of me, ugh I can’t even read the words on the page!” Through the previous week I had rehearsed my lines, but my daughter would look up at me and say, “Why you talkin’ funny?” I wasn’t. Trying. To talk. Funny.

I found that, for me, my teammates made all the difference.  Ryan and Elisabeth were totally supportive and understanding and gracious.  Ryan and I have a similar manner of planning and thinking through the details, so it worked well to have him giving specific suggestions for how to say a line and even when to pause for a sip from my coffe mug. Their assistance with imagining a little more backstory helped me to feel less “acty” and more like I was just….communicating.

The best part was the performance: I got to wear a Madonna Mic! Do you have any idea how important it feels to have that little battery pack hooked on the back of your bra?  In all seriousness, though, it was WAY fun going through the scene in front of a whole room of people. Saying a funny line and hearing dozens of people chuckle afterward is super cool.

We set up a story as we intended, communicated the concept as purposed, and we all delivered our part well. That’s a good feeling. I did it.  I acted.

Me and Elisabeth going through our part of the scene for our Arts at the Aviary attendees.

Ryan and Elisabeth both really are quite experienced actors, having done much work with community theaters in the area. I feel honored to have been able to share the stage with them.

Elisabeth and Ryan doing their part of the scene, making a list of the things that are important to them…such as the plight of the spotted owl 🙂

And guess what!  I get to do it again!

Next month our church will be celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, for which there will be a big banquet and program. Once again I get to work with my friends as we perform little vignets of key parts of the church’s history. R and E are coming over in a few days to practice –eek!

This project is a little different than the other because we are portraying people who are well known by most of the audience and/or still are active in the church. We feel like we have this stealth mission to gather information about them and study their movements. It’ll be interesting. Once again I honestly am looking forward to it.

The Significance

The fact that I am even going out on a limb to do this sort of thing is, I believe, a testament to the fact that my emotional health is improving. In the not too distant past I would have been totally overwhelmed – to the point of quitting – by the potential pressure of acting.  I would have been so mortified at the idea of looking stupid that I would likely have collapsed into myself out of fear and humiliation.

Sensing someone’s disapproval of me has been, in the past, such a horrid feeling.  I am very much more an “ask permission not forgiviness” type of person. I like to play it safe and please people. I also really like to look good. Jeopardizing that standing is extremely scary.

But, as I have been coming to learn, looking good and pleasing people is far surpassed by being good and loving people. All this drama stuff is helping me to do both.  It is good to be transparent, to be vulnerable, and to pursue excellence in art. It is loving to entertain or teach people through the medium of a drama and to ‘sacrifice’ my comfort for the sake of playing a part of a story.

On I go with this quest – to be well and love well, through acting.  To be continued…

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