Posts Tagged ‘Theater’

Kindness of Strangers

May 4, 2009

Escapism.

Theater has been a wonderful venue for me to escape my own shyness*.  Starting in university with one-act plays, student projects, and one full play, I found myself enjoying the challenge of assuming roles.  I also enjoyed the applause…don’t we all need that**?  After graduation and getting a job, I found I had little time or energy to engage further in theater activities.  Then, about 10 years ago (and at the urging of Girl Child who saw my desire to express myself), I was reintroduced to theater and fell in love with it all over.

Starting out with church plays, I soon expanded my scope to community theater.  Like an addiction, it was.  Doing theater at one theater group which I sort of call ‘home’, I ran into someone who called a different, nearby theater group ‘home’.  Invited there, I got a nice role in one of their plays.  Then off to another theater group.  Then a fourth (yes, there are a lot—too many?—local community theater groups).  While I still call my first community theater ‘home’, I consider myself an eclectic and itinerant actor.

When first getting into community theater, I found myself auditioning for and acting anywhere and anytime.  Some of this was escapism from the situation at home with The Spouse.  Some of it was escapism from the shyness.  Some of it was the raw thrill of being in front of an audience and getting them to react positively to me.  So, I would do one play after another, exhausting myself in the process.  I’ve since been a bit more selective.  Some of that selectivity is based on the quality of the play.  Some on who else would be in the play (friends!).

A couple years back, I was selected for strong roles in plays in the ‘varsity’ community theater group.  While not professional, it is considered one of the better venues to do acting in the local area.  I was honored to be selected to act there—twice!

And on the cusp of acting there a third time, my brother’s diagnosis came in.  Theater was set aside.  I didn’t want to be involved in a show and have to choose between supporting my brother (or going to his funeral) and supporting castmates.  I knew my brother would win that choice.  And, knowing how I would feel if one of my fellow actors bailed on me—yes, even to support a sick brother—I decided to just not act.

…and I missed it…

For 18 months, I demurred from auditioning.  Between the impending divorce and other life issues, though, I didn’t feel that I had the energy to begin again.

…until I realized the “Kindness of Strangers”.  Well, not really a stranger.  One of my director friends was directing a play and was having difficulty filling a bit-part role*** in “Streetcar Named Desire”.  She asked me to take one, knowing I preferred ‘meatier’ roles.  Looking for karma points for future auditions…and wanting to get back into the swing of theater…I accepted the role of the Doctor who comes to cart off the now-crazy Blanche Dubois.  On for only the last five minutes of the play and with only 4 short lines, I’m the one Blanche throws the famous line to:  “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”

While it was a small role, it brought me back to theater.

Back to escapism.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers…

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*Those who ‘sort of’ know me are astounded by my-self ascribed shyness.  “But you’re so outgoing,” they say.  Well, yeah.  That’s cover up.  I consider myself an overcompensating shy guy.  I WANT to be out there and involved with people.  So I push my own envelope and put myself in situations that are less-than-comfortable for me.  It works, though I still consider myself ‘shy’.

**Wouldn’t it be great if, in our day-to-day jobs, we had a mini-audience who would applaud at our smallest successes—“Oh, did you see how he turned a phrase when writing that report?  Brilliant…” <clap-clap-clap-clap->.

***Bit parts are tough.  You may be on stage in the background most of the play…or have 2 or 3 lines… irrespective, despite the size of the role, you are expected to fully support a rehearsal schedule, plus set build and tear down.

Spell Checker

May 13, 2008

In our society of computer based living, we have come to rely on the honestly impressive breadth and scope of tools and capabilities of those computers. One such tool is the Spell Checker.

Included in most every application involving input of words—from e-mail to word processing—it serves as a virtual 3rd grade teacher, perched over your shoulder as you laboriously scrape your #2 pencil across cheap paper with wood chunks still embedded in the fiber, urging you to correctly spell the words.

It keeps us honest.

It keeps us from making a fool of ourselves.

It is illusion.

Many of you already know this, having experienced…and often suffered from…that illusion. For those who have, take comfort in the misery that company shares. For those lucky few who have not, view this as a cautionary tale. For all, I hope you find the humor in this story and can add a smile to your day.

The backdrop – – – I am an amateur thespian…yes, I love women! Oh…wait…ummm, I’m an actor. My theater group recently moved to a new home, via an expensive reconstruction of an old supermarket. Obviously, a community theater does not have money. So, there were numerous money raising endeavors to garner the needed cash.

Aside from the continuing thanks of this community theater, there was a more permanent reminder of that support in the form of a plaque prominently placed in the foyer of the new theater. To specially thank those who contributed a bit more, there were separate categories to recognize the extent of those donations. Staying in the theater theme, the categories were named with theater nomenclature. So we had categories for – – –

Ensemble Cast

Supporting Cast

Staring Role

Director

Producer

As I input the words on this list, my word processing spell checker happily reviewed my typing and declared it correct. Just as it likely did for whoever sent the request to the plaque maker. The plaque maker, eager to meet customer needs, then built the plaque exactly as the request was typed.

So, for those patrons who contributed enough to qualify for that category, I have no clue if they will forever be known as such. I was not so generous to qualify for that level. But, honestly, I don’t want to be remembered as having a “Staring Role”.

Sew, ewe mite still knead two use Spell Checker. Butt, watt dew ewe half too loose? Yule bee glad ewe due.