The summer before grade 11 (20 years ago), I got a letter from my high school saying that they would be putting on a play in February, and tryouts would be held the first week of school in September. If anyone was interested, they should swing by the school during the summer to pick up a script. I did pick one up, and a month later I had the lead role.
I’m still not entirely sure what made me even consider trying out for a play. I can still remember being forced to be in a chorus on stage in the 3rd grade, and I was terrified, and vowed never to do that again.
Many people who know me now, but didn’t know me in my high school days, may be surprised to read this post, because I often say this phrase: I really really don’t like to be “in the spotlight.”
Except, that is, when I’m in a real spotlight.
Huh? How is that different? I think what it comes down to is, although I’m quiet, soft-spoken, and rarely like to draw attention to myself, there is something very fun about pretending to be someone else. And in those cases, it’s not me in the spotlight, it’s the character I’m playing. To put it another way, I would be more comfortable playing the scripted role of a preacher in a skit than actually preaching to a congregation. If that makes any sense.
But like painting, I haven’t done the acting thing in a long time. Three plays in high school, two lead roles, was the height of my “career,” if we could even call it that. I was Newt in Welcome to the Monkey House, I was Antipholus of Syracuse in the Comedy of Errors, and I was the White Knight in Alice in Wonderland. I’ve been in some skits for church here and there, but nothing production-worthy like those high school plays.
14 years ago I watched a good friend of mine play Puck in a Midsummer Night’s Dream in a community theater near his home. I was kind of jealous, and realized I wanted to do it again. When I got back home, I periodically looked through the newspaper ads for auditions for my own local community theater. Soon I found they were holding auditions for Tennessee William’s The Glass Menagerie. I’d never read it before, so I borrowed it from the library. It was interesting, especially Tom Wingfield. I almost went to try out.
Almost. I chickened out, and never went.
A month later I saw a film version of the play staring John Malkovich as Tom. It was brilliant. He played the part in such subtle ways I never caught from reading alone. I wish I had seen the film right after I read the play. I would have certainly tried out then. And I would have gotten that part. And I would have knocked it out of the park.
I still look at the audition calls every now and then. Haven’t found anything I’d try yet. But someday.
So that’s another thing I’d rather be doing now, acting on the stage.