Tuesday, April 18, 2017

On Acting

I wish I was still acting, I think.
It’s been 11 or so years since I decided I probably would not properly take advantage of the opportunity. A quizzical, if understanding, nod from my theater professor.
I don’t know if it was fear or practicality that decided, probably a mix.
Sometimes I think practicality is just a mask for the fear of what will happen if the unlikely remains so.
Either way.

For a good while, I lied.
Partly as a way to appease my need to pretend, but likely mostly out of fear.
Nothing big.
“Yes, I know that band. I think the only one I’ve heard is the self-titled album” (most bands have a self-titled album)
“Yes, I’ve read/seen that cultural and/or intellectual touchstone” (one can often divine the bullet points of iconic books/movies through references and parodies made in lesser works of pop culture.)
“No, I won’t be able to make it. I have/don’t have fill in the blank.” (sitting on the futon wondering why I didn’t go, wondering how it would be received if I showed up anyway.)
“I’m so sorry. I completely forgot about it.” (watching the minutes tick by, waiting for the call.)
“No, that’s okay.” (weighing principles against loneliness.)

I act calm.
I act indifferent.
I act as though I understand.
I act as though I know.

I loved acting because it allowed me to inhabit a different life, a more perfect version of humanity.
Confidence, anger, fear, love, shaped and buoyed by the ideal words at the ideal time.
Each step and gesture choreographed for maximum effect.

Walking home from school as early as I can remember and still today, on my commute, I play out scenes. What I could have said, what I would say if. How would I stand and what would I be doing with my hands. The tone. The inflection. The sweep of each pause and accent.
They would of course respond according to the script. I know what to say, because I know what they will do. My response is quick, cunning, and reasonable.
And scene.

Maybe I gave up on acting because I knew it wasn’t real. I knew I couldn’t make it what I wanted it to be.

But, of course, I didn’t know at all. I was just afraid there was no me outside the roles to do the work.