19 November 2007

Shy people of the world - get thee to a drama class!

This last Friday, I came home from work, turned my cell phone off, put on my pj's and wrapped up in blankets. I was ti-red. It had been a looong week in many ways, and I was just drained.

So. Fortified with hot tea, soup and my issue of People's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue, I hunkered down for a wild and crazy Friday night . . . not!

Yes - so the magazine was mostly fluff, but there was one little quote I really enjoyed. In the "Sexy Nerds" section (I know - I am just diggin' myself a hole . . .) Reggie Hayes, who stars on the CW's Girlfriends, answers thusly in response to the question, "Why Do Geeks Act?"

It's the perfect job for shy people. They tell you what to say, pick out your clothes and comb your hair.
I thought this was interesting; this is how I feel a majority of the time, as a performing artist. Seriously? I'm really shy. Stick me behind a podium and ask me to speechify? Hell, no. Stick me in a dress cut down to there and prance around on a stage stark, raving mad? SURE, sounds like fun to me!

What's the difference, you ask? The difference is that on stage and in character - I am free to be whatever and whomever I choose.

I am not restricted to the confines of my physiognomy, physicality, personality, credo, nor age.

There is no pressure of people-pleasing, making a good first impression, over analyzing, or "OMG did I just answer his question with something that doesn't make sense"?

I have time to research a character; time to get to know a persona - almost a courtship of sorts.

When I have the opportunity to play the same role more than once, meeting up with that old character is like reuniting with an old flame; I remember the times past, but as we've both aged and changed, new layers emerge.

You ever have those times when you think of a snappy comeback to something somebody said two days ago? Well, in theater - those comebacks are written *for* you! There is always invective ready to be flung caustically across the boards. Brilliant! How often have I wished for that in my real life?

And, as probably any drama coach worth his/her salt would say "Half - if not more - of acting is listening and responding". Shy folks - we spend most of our time listening to people, especially in large groups, especially with unknown people. As a child, other kids used to think I was stuck up, because I wouldn't talk to them. In reality, I was terrified and didn't know what to say.

Those of you who know me - and know me well - may argue with my self-assessment of being shy. I've become less so as I've aged, and as I've learned to have a public persona. But I'm still quite private. My freshman year of college, I went away to a school where I didn't know anyone. I made myself - I had to physically choose - to become more outgoing, or I would never have any friends. It was a distinct moment; an inner dialogue held standing outside of my dorm room in Snyder Hall; a moment I will never forget.

. . . . so if everything is already "there" and in place (for us shy folks, as it were) what makes theater such an art? Why are the performing arts so competitive? The magic comes when a performer is able to take what they are given and make their character come to life. To transport/convince/trick? the audience into believing that the person they see onstage is - without a doubt - a pirate king, a madwoman, a son in love with his mother, a star-crossed lover.

Bringing someone from being one-dimensional, written in a screenplay, libretto, a score, to a being a living, breathing, bleeding, soul-filled person. Therein lies the talent and skill of an actor. It is not something that is fully attainable - but rather, a constant pursuit . . .


math jedi said...

wow... that's interesting.

Anonymous said...

Makes perfect sense to me. Our pastor growing up was shy but a very dynamic speaker in the pulpit. Same thing- him stepping into a persona.