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Friday, October 10, 2008

Life is a cabaret

Bill Bloemer, who is teaching the Chemistry Cooks course, has been sharing his lectures with me so I had originally intended to write about vinaigrettes and mayonnaise, specifically how the same basic ingredients result in two very different products. (In a nutshell, different techniques results in either oil suspended in water or water suspended in oil.) Instead, I thought I’d brag on my wife who was the topic of a cover story in our local newspaper’s magazine insert.

http://www.sj-r.com/features/x282366648/A-backstage-pass-to-local-theater

She’s a pretty good actress and I say that without bias – I can recognize when she’s on or not and she’d prefer to know the truth (I think:) As the article notes, I know her to be quiet and reserved but she is uninhibited on stage. On stage, she’ll do things she wouldn’t do in public, which suggests to me that the stage is a private place that others just happen to be looking in on. At least this might be the case for those who enjoy acting.

Once, she recruited me to play two parts in the play “Jeffery” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_(film) I’m not sure what happened to the person who was supposed to play those parts but I came in on the rehearsal before the first performance and I recall still memorizing lines between my first and second appearance on stage – I might have had 4 lines altogether but you actually have to say them at the right time and in the right order. I’m comfortable speaking in front of crowds so it wasn’t scary, but it was REALLY stressful. In my experience, it was me on stage speaking lines, and not a character, so the stage was a very public place.

All of this may have had an impact on how I advise campus-based LIS majors. Whenever a young, traditionally aged student sits at my desk to discuss course options, I always say, “I’ve got the perfect course for you” and then I show them the Intro to Acting course. I’m not exaggerating when I say “always”, I do this without fail, even if it’s not on the current schedule. In almost every case, their faces register the same emotional cocktail: a combination of ego and fear. Some quickly shift to the fear side and we move on to other class options but some get this subtle smile on their face, as if they’re imagining themselves on stage. When I see the smile, I try to sell them on the class. What better skill for a young, inexperienced student to learn? Better that they learn to define their public personae than to allow the world to define it for them. After all, aren’t we all actors?

1 comment:

Beth C. said...

Hey Andy, I wonder if actors see themselves as story tellers so it's not really themselves that they reveal but the characters in the story. That is cool that your wife is an actress. I have always loved seeing live theater productions. Up here in Chicago we have the Goodman, Ford and Cadillac Palace Theaters. Last production I saw was "The Producers", it was fantastic. I personally don't think I could act. Nothing seems more terrifying to me than having hundreds of peoples undivided attention. I am getting hives just thinking about it. I think it is funny that you try to sell young students on acting class, I'm sure they are unaware of how entertaining it is for you. I want to know more about that Chemistry Cooks class...sounds like a class I could love.