TBT: Flashback Friday: Opening Night

Last night my students had their big Spring Concert, and I am hoping it went well.  I’m writing this post a day before the concert, but barring any wardrobe malfunctions or massive technical failures, it probably went well.  My students are well-rehearsed and know the songs they’re doing, so I think we’re in good shape.

Tonight the Drama students open their two-night run of Twelve Angry Jurors (Twelve Angry Men originally, but we have a mixed male-female cast).  A couple of students had to back out last-minute due to illness, family emergencies, etc., so I have to step in as Juror Ten, the bigoted one—gulp!  Fortunately, I’m not expected to memorize my lines, but I’m going to try to conceal my script in a legal pad so it’s not quite so obvious that I’m reading directly from the script.

Acting is very difficult.  This week’s TBT post looks back to when I played the lead in a play one of my former students wrote, Catching Icarus.  It was easily one of the most difficult and rewarding things I’ve ever done—and I’ve steadfastly avoided acting ever since.

I am somewhat mercenary in my artistic habits; acting is too much of a time (and mental) commitment relative to the gains (both artistic and financial).  I can slap together a good concert in a fraction of the time it takes to write, rehearse, direct, and stage a play.  And if a couple of kids can’t play on a concert, it doesn’t derail (typically) the entire event.

In other words, for me, acting is too much investment for too little return.

That said, it’s also very fun when everything clicks, and I see the appeal for those who are really into drama.

With that, here is “Flashback Friday: Opening Night“:

The concert was last night and, presumably, it went well.  I’m actually writing this post two days before the concert, so you’ll have to wait until Saturday for a full rundown.

Due to my illness earlier in the week and the hectic nature of the Fine Arts Festival, I’m throwing back to another old post this Friday.  Our High School Drama students will give their performance of their own adaptation of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.  The Drama teacher asked me to play the part of Leonato, but once I fell ill, I did something I rarely do—I backed out.  Fortunately, he is a massive Shakespeare buff, so I think he is covering the part… I hope!

Anyway, it seemed like a good time to look back to opening night of my own brief theatrical career, playing “Brett” in Catching Icarus, a two-act play a former student wrote.  The details are below in the original post, but I will add that it was extremely challenging—and rewarding.  It’s also something I have little desire to do again, as the amount of mental and emotional energy acting demands is too much.

With that, here is January 2020’s “Opening Night“:

Tonight I will appear in the first of three performances (get tickets to tonight’s performance, the Saturday matinee, or the Saturday night performance) of Catching Icarus, a play one of my former students wrote.  It’s a two-act play that takes place in a Waffle House in Dillon, South Carolina.  It’s a cast of four characters.  I play “Brett,” the father of a young man who is struggling with addiction and loss.

It’s quite gripping.  It’s also been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

I have a newfound respect for actors.  I’ve tended to take the approach that, while acting requires some real talent and commitment, it’s basically playing make-believe.

When you have to memorize sixty-pages of naturalistic dialogue—and draw on emotional reserves to engage in a verbal altercation with a heroin addict—it taxes you.  I’ve engaged every drop of mental and emotional energy I can spare.

I’ve found with plays that everything tends to come together in the end, but the process is often painful and grueling.  The process has, indeed, been incredibly virtue-building.  I have worried about this production nearly constantly the past couple of weeks, but it’s made me more confident and oddly calmer in other aspects of my life.

Indeed, we completed two excellent runs during dress rehearsal last night.  My confidence about my role in this production is substantially higher than it was even two nights ago.  I still have some items to iron out, but I’m ready.

I’m excited—and nervous—for opening night, and for the weekend performances.  I will also be incredibly thankful to be done with the final show.  I’m bracing myself for a glorious mental bowel movement Saturday night.  Then it’s time to celebrate with my girlfriend and Beethoven Sunday afternoon.

The play has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and challenge—and I will never do it again.*

*Well, probably not.

3 thoughts on “TBT: Flashback Friday: Opening Night

  1. Acting is the most natural thing in the world! We all learn how to do it by the time we’re four years old! Watch and listen to children at play – the voice changes for different dolls and superhero figures; scene changes, wardrobe changes, dialog, full mind and body attention to the situation at hand.
    Every time we share a story about what happened to us on this day at this place under this circumstance, we’re acting! Voice inflections, faces depicting fear or outrage or joy or surprise, body movements to enhance the words.
    Some of our best priests are the best actors – not only do they speak well, they are one with the sermon and wanting to share their enthusiasm and so the spotlight is on them and the topic of discussion.
    Acting is as natural to man as breathing.

    Liked by 2 people

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