Back when I was in high school, I loved participating in theater at my school. This seems like a weird fit because a) I am an introvert and b) I hate being the center of attention, but there you are anyway. I did 11 out of 12 plays my school did while I was there, 4 as tech, 7 as an actor, 2 as student director, and 1 where I actually set up all the tech cues, the order of the play (it was a bunch of skits), scene changes, etc., because our director/teacher was busy with something else at the time. I also spent two years in our children’s theater program (which counted as English and I hated English) (yes, I know how ironic that is coming from someone who writes/edits for a living) and sang in two different choirs.
In college, I originally went in planning to double major in theater and engineering, but after I ran into some unfair biases my freshman year (I got a lower grade than I deserved due to not being a theater major–actually verified against other classmates who were theater majors), I dropped that idea. (Also, engineering is hard and sometimes you’re up at 4 am in the computer lab writing a report about ants on a hotplate.)
And that was that. There’s not a lot of theater opportunities as an adult if you don’t have college experience or a degree. And what few opportunities there are, there’s a lot of competition for. Plus, as an adult, you’re supposed to, you know, adult. Playing around and being silly is something that becomes harder to do the older you get.
However, my church runs a community theater program. I’ve known about it for a few years now, and have flirted with it a few times. I tried out for The Importance of Being Earnest a while ago, and again last year for Into the Woods, though I didn’t get cast either time. This isn’t terribly surprising. They have a core cast of people who have been doing the shows for years, and also I am very very tall and hence am hard to cast in general because I am taller than all the guys (and hence am a bad love interest) and am a weird age (too old for your classic female main character in most cases, too young for the older ones).
But this year, they’re doing Godspell, and hey, they put me in the ensemble. And I’d figured it would be a good ease back into this whole acting thing, standing in the back and singing harmony on the songs. But it’s actually been way more intense than that. Several people who have done previous shows have mentioned how far out of their comfort zone this has been. Everyone’s on stage most of the time, acting and singing and dancing. Even the ensemble. And I’ve got a “solo” signing a song.
“Easing” back in, ha! Not sure I’ve ever worked this hard at a show, except maybe The Diary of Anne Frank my junior year where I had to learn a German accent and also have a screaming emotional breakdown in the middle of Act 2.
(There’s so much dancing. I got 5000 steps at rehearsal last Wednesday.)
But still, even though it’s been wildly uncomfortable to put my whole self into this madness, I suspect it’s been good for me. You have to put your all into acting or it doesn’t work. It’s exhausting, but it’s also freeing. I think it helps you connect better to yourself in some ways. And I think I’ve been needing that. And, probably, my writing has been needing that.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go practice my “solo” again. (I’ll get you yet, second verse!)