Monday, March 14, 2011
Macbeth Macbeth Macbeth
First off: SWEET, SWEET RELIEF!!
I have a Shakespeare class this year at school. Yeah, I like reading Shakespeare (or, enough to keep wanting to read it after high school), and the class has been thus far highly enjoyable no doubt due to an amazing prof. The work load is fairly light, too. No tests or final exam! Added bonus.
Instead, though, my prof had this fantastically horrifying idea to have - in place of a term test - a scene performance worth 15%, where he placed us into groups of five, performing a scene from any given play on a schedule throughout the semester. It just so happened, today was the day.
Once upon a time, I used to pride myself on being an actor. My call to fame was the token comedic relief throughout elementary school (including a turn as the Sultan in Aladdin. It is an INJUSTICE I was not Jafar. Me, the freakishly tall guy with dark looks and a general air of suspicious evil about him constantly. I am still pissed) High school rolled around and, of course, there were better actors than me, so I settled for a priest in Jesus Christ Superstar (...catholic high school) or the small but funny - no doubt made by my portrayal, not by the script - part as Mr Gardiner in Pride & Prejudice. That's quite the resume if I do say so myself.
That being said: I did not pursue acting. I did not take a drama class past grade ten. Why? To be perfectly honest, I chalk it up to my developed concern with what people think of me as I grew older. I felt like getting up and acting in front of people required a sort of confidence, a confidence which quickly dwindled as I got up there in years. I sound like some old soul. Me, at 19.
Enough with the self assessment. Naturally, I was not looking forward to my university acting debut. Given that I don't have any friends in my English classes - Shakespeare included - I am perfectly comfortable with sitting alone and merely existing to take my notes. On top of that, half (HALF!) of my class are drama majors, all friends with each other, all incredibly obnoxious and cocky, all having previously performed and damn, they did perform well. Needless to say, I absolutely dreaded my scene.
My group - four girls, none of whom were drama kids - and I settled on Act IV, Scene I of Macbeth: you know, that one where the witches call on three apparitions to tell Macbeth about his future. You guessed it: I was left the task of being Macbeth. Having had previous experience with acting on stage my lines were down with ease; it was a huge undertaking, though, to say the least, memorizing and mastering Shakespearean language.
Our frantic practices went well, I would say. We all went all out with everything, seeing as we really had nothing to lose. Except for our dignity. We focused a great deal on the technical aspect to mask our the acting: we had a strobe light, another two lights to flash in our homemade cauldron, and distorted-voice audio files for the head witch and apparitions. We decided we'd go all out with our costumes, too: the witches wearing heaps of black and awful makeup; me, in a paper crown wearing a Phantom of the Opera costume I found in my closet from Halloween past.
Despite all the signs of everything going smoothly... I STRESSED OUT LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER. I literally thought about our scene performance at every waking hour of my day. As I tried to fall asleep at night, all I could think about was our scene. I stressed about my lines. I stressed about everyone else's lines. I stressed about a few staging things that didn't work. I stressed about props. I stressed about the drama kids, all sitting together in a huge knot with their judging eyes. Christ Almighty.
And so, we fast-forward (or rewind...?) to today at 1pm. My heart felt like it was going to either rupture or fall out of my body and squeal until it bled out on the floor in front of me. (graphic?) We were to go first. I wait out in the hall; I was to make my entrance through the back door of the classroom, walking up the isle to the front of the class. The first half of the scene went off smoothly: the three witches had their little potion making party before my cue - "By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes!" I KNOCK KNOCK on the door. "Open, locks, whoever knocks!"
Gulp. Swallow. Open my closed eyes. Rush into the room.
And all went well. I hope to never, ever, EVER, have to do something like that again.
(NOTE: yes, it appears that I have ventured into the world of illustrating my blog posts. By no means am I an astounding artist; by all means I am to provide another laugh or two; by no means do I feel all pretentious about my drawings, as I'm conscious they're for a laugh; by all means I am inspired by my friend Steph's blog whose drawings add an extra level of umph)