Monday, January 12, 2009

Theater People

Saburo Teshigawara's Luminous

© Dominik Mentzos

I suffer from stage fright.

The kind that elicits a “fight or flight” response that originates somewhere in the very pit of my soul. It manifests itself as shaking knees, breathlessness, and a projected personality somewhere between a mummy and a rabbit eating a carrot in your garden as your German Shepherd strolls out of the door. I can pretty much talk to anyone one-on-one, two-on-one, ten-on-one, around the table, on a conference call, in a park. Fine, fine and fine. But prop me up in front of a group of people, and a deer illuminated by your headlights on the darkest road has Prozac running through its veins compared to me. Add a podium, and ... well, I'll hate you.

People tell me they cannot see it. People lie.

All right! I am working on it. And, no – I have not tried Toastmasters yet. Shut up.

Also, I write plays (on the side – way on the side), and have no desire to ever step on the stage. It does not jazz me. My ego is not fulfilled by the thought of applauding audiences (OK, I could probably bear to get up on stage for Maestro Oscar, Tony or Obie). But, I have felt for some time that my writing would be improved by a clearer understanding of actors, their processes, and their needs.

So, the spring semester has begun, and I have elected to take Fundamental Principles of Acting. Aren’t I brave? We met for the first time tonight , and I must say that I am looking forward to it. It helps that we will work in a small “acting room” – whatever the hell that is – and not on a stage. And, I am neither going to think about, nor sweat out the fact that I can look forward to embarrassing exercises and a final performance in front of a class full of limber, indifferent post-teens. None of it signifies. It’s the actor's process, world-view, and needs that I seek to understand. Nothing else matters, right?

Uh-huh. We'll see in two weeks when we each must sit in the center of the room, and be barraged with personal questions while attempting to represent “psychological gestures” (unconscious tics we all occupy ourselves with whilst conversing, zoning out, or merely breathing). Oh, and it's not our own psychological gestures we must slip into the conversation; it's those of random classmates we must demonstrate. Yeah. Great.

Ooop! I meant “Yea! Great!”

Can’t wait.


Lori Skoog said...

Now this class sounds right up my alley and I wish I was there to take it with you. Have a great time with it. Art was fun right????

The video was done with my trusty everyday cameral that I take all the photos with. I will have to do more.

Carolyn said...

I can so relate to what you are saying. I am an interpreter for a cultural and community centre and I can bring people to tears with my passionate story telling, however ask me to stand on stage and make a presentation and you would never know it was the same person!
I have just enrolled in a "Living Large" creative dance program with a community performance at the end of the term. I am 60 and very robust however I am flexible and absolutely love music and rythmn and have spent my whole life being a spectator rather than a participant because of my size. I am so looking forward to this!
One of the nice things I have learned about "60" is "who gives a dam", certainly not me! You will do just great!
P.S. Thanks for stopping by my blog. I am just getting through your posts, you are so who I strive to be. I also love your choice of music and I am so excited about next week for all of us.
Smiles and keep playing.

Maryanne said...

She can do it, you can do it!

CoyoteFe said...

Halllooo Lori!

I believe you would LOVE it (such an outgoing ... goer), and I wish you were here! I must admit that Art was quite fun, and I even learned something. I am hoping for much the same here. And, yes! More vids please!

Carolyn -

Welcome back, and thanks for swinging by again! I am in awe of you joining the dance program, as that sounds like the kind of torutre that would also turn out to be a terrific experience. Bravo! I'm 48. Could I be an honorary Who gives a dame - I mean dam until I catch up? What do you interpret?


You say that now, but when I have to take Prozac ... ha!

rebecca said...

Felicia Superstar!

Oh, my! Can I tell you I know EXACTLY how you feel? Yeah, chatty-patty with mucho opinions one-on-one, two-on-one, ten-on-one; talk in front of a, what's my name again?

I always tell my husband that anyone who does not know me and heard me speak in front of a group would most likely think I have two brain cells left and they're not working at full optimum either! Scary sh*t, is all I have to say, and sorry for the cuss word, but, hey, it was appropriate.

You are are my hero! Now, why can't I be this brave? And trust me, those limber, indifferent fetuses have nothing on got experience, humor, intelligence, and a lot of hutzpah, mama! You go in there and show them how it's done!

Go on now....I have your back!

CoyoteFe said...


Ha! You aretoo, too funny! But that stuff about forgetting one's name ain't. Argh!

Will I be your hero when I run screaming from the "actors' room"? Urk. I'll be needing that back you offer.

BTW - I put a bad cuss word in my current post just for you! Language - gotta love it.

rebecca said...


Of course you'll still be my hero! In my book it's the attempt that counts. Whether you succeed or fail (and I sincerely doubt you'll fail, I just don't think Mama Rivers brought up scaredy pansies) is insignificant! You enrolled! And you're in it! Hell, you're halfway there already!

As for the cuss word *sigh* I see I finally brought you over to the dark side.... But, hey, every actor worth his weight is on The Actor's Studio and they're always asked what their favorite cuss word see, I'm just getting you ready mama! :)

CoyoteFe said...

Ha! Halfway there, huh? Are you a motivational speaker too? (consulting my map).

And, James Lipton of actors studio frightens me.

rebecca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rebecca said...

Motivational? I'm a Libra, so this trait is fairly balanced with Procrastinational .... hehe!

Speaker? Hardly! Uh-uh to the second power....

Aww, and James Lipton, such a nice, sweet a scary sort of way.

CoyoteFe said...

James Lipton - Is it his mustache? :-)