I was listening to a recent episode of the Raise the Bar podcast (iTunes) and one of the hosts was talking about their experience of doing stand-up comedy to open up for Don Burnstick. Specifically he was relating how he felt it was “game time” once the spotlight shone in his eyes. It got me thinking about one experience I had in high school – I think it would have been 15 years ago now.
I acted on stage in a one act play festival. I honestly could not now remember what the name of the play was, but I do remember it was something about playing the father of the last fertile man on Earth (very Children of Men-ish). Up until the point of when I decided to audition for a part, the only “acting” I had ever done would have been reading lines from a church Sunday School play, or performing speeches in elementary school. I’d been on stage before playing music as part of a high school band – but never anything at this level.
I think I got involved because of the group of friends I surrounded myself with. They were very much involved in the Drama department, and I think I was close to getting involved with one of the big productions in the school but backed out. The One Act Play festival was much smaller and felt a little more approachable.
The audition process was probably the most difficult part for me. I had to first find a monologue to deliver – something I’d never done – and then memorize it. There were some minor lines or references in the monologue that apparently I could have had an audience member perform but I didn’t find that out until after. I think it went alright though. But it was hard also because I could see everyone in front of me and I knew every single one of them. And I was being watched. It was a bit nerve-wracking.
By contrast acting in the play was a lot easier. Similar to the Raise the Bar host who experienced the “game on” feeling of having the spotlight shone on them, the bright lights on the stage blacked out the audience. If I entered the stage before seeing the cafetorium (our school’s cafeteria doubled as an auditorium), I’d never know anyone was there. But I also knew my lines, we all rehearsed everything and knew what to do.
I can definitely relate to those stage lights increasing that feeling of confidence. I can’t remember the moments leading up to being on stage, but I’m pretty sure I was a little bit nervous. I think I missed a line on one of the nights. But I felt really good about the whole process. It was a different feeling than playing in band – on those performances, everyone makes up one whole. Acting in a play, everybody got a chance to get audience focus.
I don’t think I saw any reviews. I have no idea how good or bad I might have been. But it was an experience I probably will never have again. I say “probably” because you never know – maybe one day I might find myself on a stage. You can’t rule everything out.
But I’m glad to have had the experience, however short it was.