Its been a while since I’ve written a “happy moment” but this week, I definitely have something to write about. Tonight is the opening night for the play that I’m in called “Enchanted April“. From a novel originally written by Elizabeth von Arnim, the play – a romantic comedy written by playwright Matthew Barber – is set in England and Italy in 1922. Four unhappy English women respond to a newspaper advertisement about a castle to rent in Italy. Once in the sunshine of the Mediterranean all of their troubles seem to dissipate as they rediscover themselves. It is an absolutely brilliant piece, one from which my close friend, who is also in the play, and I, often quote. Although it was set in an era from nearly 100 years ago, the issues and thoughts it conveys are very much relevant to today’s world.
We started rehearsals in January and have been hard at work twice a week for nearly four months. I have never been in a full production before and it has been a great experience. Our director, Ingrid McCarthy, is exceptional at what she does and although we are an amateur group, she has pushed us to perform at a very high level. Its very difficult to imagine in the beginning…the very bare bones beginning…what the production will look like in the end (although I think Ingrid had a good idea). And now that it has all come together, to me, its nothing less than spectacular. I can only hope the audience enjoys it but I don’t expect them to have the same appreciation. How could they? They didn’t see the progression.
I can’t say I didn’t have moments of great frustration. I love my character but it took a while for me to “become” her. Her name is Rose. At the beginning of the play she is depressed, uptight and at times unpleasant, and extremely pious. She seems to use her piety as a way to push other people away and almost as a security blanket. I couldn’t imagine how one could play a depressed person energetically. But slowly and surely I evolved into her. By the end of the play she is vibrant and alive which was much easier to embrace. The greatest transformation came when we started wearing our costumes it became so easy for me to step into her…literally. The other challenge was to learn to project my voice. I’ve always spoken softly from my throat and my director constantly pushed me to speak louder. Now, when I hear my voice ricochet off the auditorium walls I can barely believe it was I who had spoken!
There are so many positives to acting – the boost in self-esteem, learning about a process and about yourself, and the natural high that comes with being on stage. Successfully learning one’s lines is an achievement in itself! Believe me, when I saw the script I almost died. The number of lines I had were, quite frankly, overwhelming. But I know them all now. Most of them come out of me without a second thought. I used to be terrified of speaking in public to the point that I would turn beet red and start shaking. I can’t say that I’m not nervous about tonight…that would be almost unnatural…but, as my director said, you have to harness the nervousness and take advantage of the adrenalin to enhance your performance. I really feel a nervous excitement about tonight rather than a dread. The sheer pleasure of performing, delivering a smooth performance – ideally it would be flawless but we are only human – I can’t even express. By the end of the second act, I’m almost giddy and not because its over but because it was FUN!!
If you ever get the chance to try acting grab it! It is extremely rewarding and it has been one of the best experiences in my life. Tonight we start a seven performance run and I can’t wait!! It is truly an enchanted April!! Wish me luck!!