Friday, December 20, 2013

Out of the Box

           It happened again. I don’t understand how or why but it did. You see, after my last stint as an “actor” I foolishly made the comment that I actually did enjoy myself just a little bit. I suppose this meant to some people that I would be willing to do more acting in the future and truth be told, I didn’t really mind performing in front of people. So, when I got a call to fill in for a minor role in a Christmas play I was a bit conflicted with whether or not I really wanted to do it.  My initial reaction was “No.” But after some discussion with my friend who roped me into the first gig, I agreed. My thoughts were “It’s a minor roll, it won’t take up too much time and I won’t have to be in front of people for an extended period of time.”
            When I showed up for the first rehearsal I was greeted by the director and several other actors by name. I had no clue as to who these people were or even how they knew my name but I replied cordially and then was handed a three ring binder. When I sat down, I opened the binder and saw the list of characters. I quickly asked which roll I was to be playing and I was told “Nathan”. I looked down at the list of names and what I saw confused me. My roll read Nathan/Narrator. I asked the director what this meant and he informed me that my roll also included readings before and after each scene but I was only acting in one scene.
            That is when I started to flip through the play. Sure I saw my one scene with five lines. I can easily do that. But then I started to look for all the narration parts. There were at least eight of them along with one extremely long, heartfelt reading by my character about his mother dying. I wanted to leave right then and there. But I didn’t.
            When all the actors were assembled, we did a quick read through. Then I excused myself to take a few minutes and decide if this is what I really wanted to do. You see, most of my life I have strived to not be in front of people, instead I like to sit behind the scenes of any given event. Whether I’m in my office working on trains, fixing animatronic figures, operating lights, sound and cameras for my church or even at a party with friends and family, I like to try and stay inconspicuous. Yet, here I was, for the second time in a year being asked to stand in front of people and perform. I’m uncomfortable when people are watching me and I usually goof things up when I know I’m being watched.
            When I returned to the small room where we were practicing I was still unsure of whether or not I wanted to fulfill this obligation to my buddies church. That’s when we did the second reading. I decided that I would make the best of my situation and tried my best at delivering my lines with as much emotion and skill an untrained and reluctant actor could. By the time we got halfway through the reading, I found myself enjoying myself and came to the realization that it would be selfish of me to not follow through with this project.
            Over the course of the next few weeks we practiced on stage and with the choir. I didn’t know if I was doing a good job or not but I tried to give my full attention to my task at hand. On opening night, the weather was being as uncooperative as I had felt on that first night of practice. And because of the inclement conditions outside, about forty people showed up for the first performance, yet I was unfazed by this fact. Truth be told, I had no clue as to how many people were in actual attendance until after the performance. You see, I wear glasses but I don’t need them to read, and if I try to read with them on the words on the page get all blurry to me. I need my glasses to see twenty feet in front of me and farther. So, while up on stage, I take my glasses off so that I can read my narration parts and essentially blind myself from seeing if anyone is truly in the audience. (This is a blessing to me.)
            After that first show, when the choir and actors walk off the stage and we eventually make our way down to where the lingering audience is, that is when I realized how little of a turn out we had. I didn’t mind. How could I? I did my best and so did the other performers and how could I blame people for not coming out when we were having Forrest Gump type rain?
            The second and final night of the play… well, let me say there were a lot more people in attendance. The day had been chilly but not cold, the sky was pretty much cloud free and there were snacks promised to all after the show. So, yeah, in hindsight, there were quite a few more people in attendance.
            When we finished the play, the lead pastor of the church stood up, prayed and thanked us all for the hard work and effort we put into the performance and then he did something that caught me completely off guard. He called me out by name in front of everyone with the house lights up. He said complimentary things about me and people clapped. I waved back nervously and tried to hide behind my narrators stand. He then dismissed the performers to go to the reception hall so we could be greeted by the audience.
            When I got to the hall, there were a dozen tables overflowing with food, cakes, cookies and punch. I quickly drank two glasses of punch and tried to avoid eye contact with everyone. I failed. It seems people really liked what I did and they kept saying as much to me. I smiled and thanked them as politely as I could. Receiving praise for work that I do has always been a difficult thing for me and that night was no different.  
            I don’t know how long I stayed in the reception hall but I knew it wasn’t too long. I felt as if no matter where I went or what I did, people were looking at me. So I quietly excused myself and made my way to my motorcycle and went home.
            That should have been the end of this tale, but it isn’t. For you see, my dear reader, since that night I have had couple of people approach me who either went to that play or the play over Halloween and tell me what a great job I did and that they would never have guessed I could act. I’m not saying here and now that I can act, but you know, I do think I am getting the hang of people telling me I did a good job. Also, I think that stepping out of my proverbial box has helped me grow into a more well rounded individual. So for that, I have to say “Thank You” to Brent, David, Tom and Pinecrest Baptist Church for dragging me onto the stage and having me do what they felt I could do.
            On a final note, there is pretty much two weeks left to the new year. I am going to try and get two more blogs out but I’m not going to guarantee anything as of right now. But I will say that my blog site is fast approaching a quiet goal in the number of people that have visited and or read my musings. When I get to that goal, I will let you all know, but know this, when I do, I will be extremely grateful to you all for taking the time to follow me on my journey of becoming a better communicator and human being.
            Have a great week.

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