Our little theater group just wrapped up a production of “Deathtrap” at the great Capitol Theater in Waterloo. It was, I think, the 15th show I’ve been in with Monroe Actor’s Stage Company.
MASC is a great group, and like many such groups, it is run by a handful of folks. People like me come and go for various reasons. Yet, there is always a core group of people who serve as board members, making decisions and keeping things going. Those like me are thankful for those people.
There are so many things about doing theater that I like. The introduction of the characters at the audition and the read-through, getting accustomed to the character I play and to the ensemble, and learning where to stand and walk on stage. I like getting a costume ready. I like the “bloopers” that happen during rehearsal and sometimes during the actual show. I like taking a bow. And yes, I’d be fibbing if I said I didn’t like the applause and the laughter.
I think, however, that my favorite part of the show is the people. The relationships we form when we do a show are meaningful and many times, life long. Working on a show together offers so many opportunities to bond with people.
Perhaps my favorite types of people to do community theater with are those who try it for the first time. At auditions, it’s wonderful to see folks come in who say “I’ve always wanted to try this.” It’s even better when those people get cast in a role.
Watching people get bitten by the acting bug is delightful and a lot of fun. I love watching people who haven’t done a lot of theater get their first taste of laughter, applause and approval from the audience.
I don’t think there is much of it anymore, but I know there was once quite a stigma attached to men who get involved with theater. Indeed, I’ve had a handful of conversations with guys who have said the attitude of their families or friends had kept them from giving acting a try.
When I was in college, I knew a guy who had been a star football player and gymnast in high school and a brief time in college. For various reasons, including a few injuries, he wound up as a college cheerleader and stopped playing ball. He was also a great singer and decided one day to try out for a musical the theater department was putting on. He ended up being a campus star and had to beat the girls off with a stick. I don’t recall anyone ever questioning his masculinity and the girls were sure impressed with him. Most of us guys were in awe of him and maybe a little jealous.
But when I was working on one of the shows he was in, I heard him talking about his history and he spoke of wanting to do plays and musicals in high school, yet always being highly influenced by what he thought everyone wanted from him. He told us that being in those shows in college was one of the happiest times in his life.
I have lost track of my college friend, but I know he continued to do theater in Chicago, and I know he eventually married his college girlfriend. She was also a theater person, and I’ll bet they are living happily somewhere raising little theater folks.
Every time I’m in a show, I always wonder if there are people who come to the theater or read about auditions in the newspaper. I wonder if there are people who sit at home and say “Maybe I’ll give that a shot.” I wonder if they ever talk themselves out of it, giving themselves a variety of reasons for not auditioning.
I love meeting the patrons after a show. We have some great supporters who are so appreciative and complimentary. They come forward and shake our hands.
One little, dear lady came up to me this past weekend and said, “You know, I always wished I had tried out for a play.” Although she was an older lady, I told her she should keep her eyes peeled for auditions. I told her that it’s never too late to try.
How about you? Ever thought about going to an audition? All you have to do is read a few lines and be animated and loud. Get up there, read with expression. Sit down and go up and read again. If you decide you want to read it again because you can do it even better, the director will let you. If you don’t get cast, volunteer to help with the show and then try again next time. Ask for advice and pointers. If you want to do it, find a way!
Who knows? You might get to do something you’ve always wanted to do.