Monday, April 28, 2014

Acting Like Actors

For our final level A improv class, we played a new game called Oscar-winning scene. Three people start a scene, during the course of which the instructor stops the regular dialogue and tells one of us to launch into what will become our Oscar-winning monologue. We are to take whatever emotion we can scrounge from our last line and run wild with it. We are to start speaking without a destination, and we must keep speaking until our instructor mercifully prompts us to continue with the regular scene.

They (they being my instructor and anyone who agrees with him) say that you know you were really in the zone if, when you step off stage, you can’t say for the life of you what just happened. I know that during my monologue I used the word ‘cattywampus’ and talked briefly about milk. So I didn’t experience that elusive amnesia-by-improv, I guess, but I was still amazed at how far we’d all come in 8 weeks. I was amazed at what spewed from our darling, novice brains, especially when most of us have never acted before.

Did the previous statement lead you to believe that I've never acted before? Well, forgive me. I have misled you. In fact, I assumed the role of a hopping frog in a biblical school play about the Ten Plagues, and I also played Jester 1 in an all-girl production of Princess and the Pea (you snooze, you lose, boys). After that, my acting career sort of petered out / was completely over. I always thought it might be fun to do it in high school, but if you aren’t involved in theater by say, spring of sophomore year, you’ve established yourself as a non-theater kid, and it’s kind of too late. (Unless you’re one of those self-assured kids, in which case you can do whatever you damn well please.) 

So I settled for delivering silent monologues in front of the steamy bathroom mirror, and driving along Highway 15 as the imaginary opening credits played for a movie starring a pensive, sometimes lovelorn teen (me). Outwardly, I joined my friends in expressing mild annoyance with theater kids and, later on in college, BFA actors. For the record, I have friends who are actors. They are good people. But they can also be pretty loud, and at times, obnoxious. They never miss an opportunity to put on a show, or to assume that Greek tragedies and Shakespeare were part of your curriculum, too.

Regardless of how far I choose to take this improv stint, I doubt I will ever consider myself an actor. Still, when my classmates and I gathered for drinks after our last class, we were oozing that same in-group smugness I so often felt emanating from the theater kids. We cheersed to our favorite memories from Level A and, raising our voices a little louder than was probably necessary, praised one another for our clever moments. We were acting like actors.


Level B will delve further into character work; the acting has only just begun. Will my down-to-earth nature keep me from falling face first into a theatrical rabbit hole? 

Probably, but it would be foolish of me to be certain of anything at this point.

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