Thursday, September 11, 2014

Telling Stories

“For a story to truly hold attention, it must entertain and arouse curiosity. But to enrich life, it must stimulate imagination; help to develop intellect and to clarify emotions; be attuned to anxieties and aspirations; give full recognition to difficulties, while at the same time suggesting solutions to the problems. In short, it must at one and the same time relate to all aspects of personality, giving full credence to the seriousness of predicaments, while simultaneously promoting confidence in the self and in the future.” -Bruno Bettelheim

I have always been fascinated by stories. As a child I would run around during recess making up adventures for Peter Pan and other Disney characters to act out in my head. I did the same thing at home. I don't remember what the stories were about; they had no beginning and no end, I simply picked up where I had left off and quite literally ran with it.

It's always been easy for me to act like characters in books or movies are real. Their personalities leap off the page and make me feel like I've known them for years. I believe it's also my attraction to stories that draws me to theatre and the performing of it. To act out a story, to transpose it from words on paper to flesh-and-blood human beings, is the most magical of experiences.

Since mid-July I've been giving all my blood, sweat, and tears to Camelot, my current show. We started by circling up our chairs and doing a read through of the script. Blocking out scenes, practicing dance steps, drilling tra-la-las until I could sing them in my last two months have been consumed with Camelot. Tonight we add the most essential of ingredients: an audience. Until that moment, although we have added lights and props and costumes, we are only rehearsing, talking to ourselves. The only thing that will make this performance valid and successful is to tell a story to the people who have come to hear it.

Performing is not about me. It's about the audience. During my last show as a high school student our director told us, "Every audience deserves the best show." It's a paradoxical statement, because every performance is different; that's the magic of live theatre. And even though mistakes might be made, cues might be dropped, the show might not be the 'best', it is our commitment as actors that is crucial. I need to try and give the best show I have ever given every single night, because someone in that audience has never been told the story of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guenevere.

It's not only the people who don't know Arthurian legend that I want to touch. I want to touch the people who have already seen Camelot, but not like we are performing it. I want someone to look at us onstage and hear the message that we're trying to get across, truly hear it. This is our cast, this is our story, this is a version of Camelot that has never existed before and will cease to exist when we take our final bows.

 "This is the time of King Arthur, and we reach for the stars! This is the time of King Arthur, and violence is not strength and compassion is not weakness. We are civilized! Resolved: we shall live through this together, Excalibur…they…you…and I… and God have mercy on us all."

To be involved in the process of creating stories is a drug that never stops intoxicating me.

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