Acting for Dummies

Home 2009 Archive Acting for Dummies

by Madelain Tigano

Momentum: it’s the ability to get up and just tackle the fear, leaving it at the door while embracing the ability to show the weaker side.  How many times will it take to overcome? When will I feel total comfort out in front and in the spot light? These are some of the questions I asked myself. Nevertheless, the nerves still came streaming through my veins all the way into my face, leaving a pinch of red pigment in my cheeks.

This semester I decided to pursue a theater class, which, in return, I hope to set free the shakes and stutters, and become fully comfortable. “Don’t worry about looking stupid,” said Rodney Whatley, theatre department head.  “Everyone is going to look stupid.”

These words on the first day of acting class made me feel a little at ease. Then going over the itinerary, the nerves came crawling back. The thought of cold reading tests, monologues, and a final exam that ends in a five minute scene with two other classmates just kept circling my head. Round and round in a dizzy, trying not to let my emotions get the best of me, I told myself, “Stick in there; don’t give up just yet.”

The second day of class I walked in and noticed the desks placed near the sides of the walls with the chairs staked on top. “What is this?” I asked myself. I could only imagine what would happen next. Whatley then came strolling in. I watched him, not knowing what he was going to say or do next.

To understand Whatley, I would say he is a witty yet passionate character. He has many accomplishments, from once teaching at Florida State University to acting in cities across the country. He plays a part everyday in his lectures which often brings the class to a laughing fit.

As I waited nervously, Whatley began to speak. He told the class to lie on the ground. “Really, on the ground?” I thought to myself. “What could this be?” I participated with an open mind and made my way onto the blue carpet.

Next he told us to take deep relaxing breaths, in through the nose out through the mouth, and to close our eyes. After this, we spent the next 30 minutes loosening up tight muscles and realizing those in between. My nerves began to fade, and I was starting to take control.

After the therapy, Whatley asked the class to chant “hubba bubba bubba bubba.” All in sync, I participated with my classmates in saying these childish words. We all sounded quite silly, and we then took our voices louder and louder to a scream. And all of this was just the opening of the activities for the day. Another chant followed, and thereafter we boxed – well, make-believe boxed, of course.

A few classes later, I found myself standing on the small platform, front and center, about to go first in the class for the cold reading test. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I kept doing it anyway. Somehow I came out with a B plus in the end.

Two classes after the cold reading I spent a Tuesday night remembering a few lines to recite the next day in class for my first monologue. Just knowing I had to remember those lines and say them before a 60 second whistle stop made me quiver. The nerves jolted me, until I stood up there, on that platform, and tried to play the part. I took a deep breath before I started, and once I was done, I was ready to take my seat back into the crowd.

I will tell you this: I didn’t mess up my lines, nor did I go over time. However, the feeling I experienced when it was all over, after I got up there and tackled my fear, filled my body with a rush of accomplishment.  I sat there back in the crowd and thought, “Hey I might have looked like a dummy up there, but it’s an acting class, and we are all going to look a little ridiculous.”

Leave a Reply