It was nighttime on May 18th; my heart felt like it was going to burst. Wouldn't that make things simple. It would all be over. "23 year old dies of heart attack; probably nerves".
I asked Rachel, who was in front of me, if she felt the same way. Her reddened cheeks answered for her. I looked past our small enclosure. It seemed like every seat was filled. We got our cue, and went out to greet our audience.
On the night of May 18th, I, for the first time, performed on a New York stage. This was the phrase that was told to me by supportive friends and peers. I needed to hear the reality of it to understand what it really meant. I performed a short play I had written in addition to one I had not write. I was nervous. The giggles had gotten me more than once during rehearsal and there was a long speech I'd always lose in the middle. Worst case scenario, I'd lose my line, hate myself, and an awkward silence would permeate the theater, ending only when I walked out of the room and went home.
But everything felt seamless that night (felt). I dropped zero lines and, while I almost cracked and laughed, my composure held and the scene remained intact.
I know this blog is mostly dedicated to my illustration process but this event was too important not to share. And it's not to say "look at this amazing thing I did!" (I do that enough with my illustration). Instead I'd like to look at how it was possible to do something I would think was relatively impossible.
It began with a recommendation. I was still in school and two writing professors advised me that an acting class would do well for my writing. I took it seriously and researched, asking my more experienced professor, Christopher Cartmill, if he had any specific school in mind for me to go to. He sent me to HB and suggested I take a technique class before taking any kind of scene study. This was a relatively inexpensive and relaxed school and it seemed fine enough. I took a class that was a combination of technique and scene study. Or so I thought.
The class was an involved scene study class of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, a play I had never read before. I was very underprepared for the class and boy, did it show. I was the youngest person there and had the least amount of experience (none, in fact). However, I was able to use a writer's eye, not to act well, but to understand the text at hand. When it came to acting I felt very uncomfortable. I was constantly aware of my awkwardly still arms and hands. I'd hold my breath between lines and for the most part, I was physically and visibly nervous.
But I stayed at HB and knew I could take a different class, specifically beginner's technique. This was a perfect class for me. Not only was the environment supportive, but mostly everyone was in the same position as me. I went through the techniques in order and even spilled them over on the next class, a term ahead, a regular scene study class with the same instructor, Joe Daly. This class was also very different from beginner's technique.
Ages varied, as did skill, and everyone seemed to know each other except me. Gone was the support I felt from beginners' technique. Clapping was not allowed and I was the only one doing technique exercises. Everyone else performed monologues or scenes with other people. I felt alone in my endeavor and thought maybe I should've stayed in beginner's technique. That kind of faulty thinking I eventually put behind me. In reality, I was being treated like an equal by everyone except myself and was blind to it for a majority of the class.
Then it happened. I was invited to drinks by the class. Each night I would go home alone knowing most of the actors went to a local bar for drinks and/or food. Finally, I was invited. It felt more like an acceptance. I had to say yes regardless of my coward's intuition to say no. "You don't know them","it'll be weird", what'll you say", there were many neurotic protestations that came to mind as soon as I was invited but I had dealt with enough of myself to ignore them and say yes.
Drink outings were fun and plentiful. It was there we vocalized our support and very constructive criticism was given while forging relationships. We became friends, I had people to work with and things felt right. One day, I was asked to join in a possible play by one of my friends who was in the class. The mere fact that I was asked in a way that highlighted my participation only made me say yes faster.
And on May 18th, family, colleagues, and, most importantly, friends saw me perform a short play I had written long ago and never would have even thought it would be heard. They applauded, congratulated me, and they continue to support me as I continue with my class. I'm not sure what to expect in the future, concerning acting, writing, illustrating, but I am damn sure, if opportunity arises, I will say yes.
Where's the art, the pictures, anything? Well, the most recent development in my life is that I have a job. A real person freelance job (real is used loosely here). This gives me less time to write but also made me change my perspective on this blog. Its still going to mostly be about my art but when large important things happen, I still want to talk about it and not wait until I have a piece of art to pair it with. Similarly, if I only want to talk about a new piece of art without the life lesson, I should be comfortable with that. Hopefully this means more updates, with less text but the same amount of focus I have given each entry.
Also, just because, here's some art and sketches. Thanks for reading.
One of these is way older than the other. Probably a little obvious as to what's what.