Actress: Or Being Dramatic With a Point
My mother has called me dramatic as long as I can remember. One time, I threatened to cut out my tongue with a pair of scissors because I didn’t want to memorize words for my homeschool co-op’s third-grade spelling bee.
“You better press hard, it’s a muscle,” was her response.
Unfortunately for those around me, my tongue is still intact.
Growing up, I envied the actors and actresses in my church’s Vacation Bible School. There were two main actors that stayed pretty consistent through the years: Sal and Mr. H. Mr. H was just one of the worship leaders (Mr. Hartman — you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to put that together), while Sal was the funniest dude I knew. Sal had a black wig, black sunglasses, a floral shirt and a voice that sounded like Scooby Doo’s; who, to an eight-year-old, was basically God.
As I got older, some of my peers got cast in the VBS shows while I got stuck on snack cart duty. Snack cart duty with one of my best friends, mind you, but snack cart duty was still just as boring as it sounds. It meant taking plastic plates with whatever creative junk my aunt had made for the day, on a cart that had multiple worthless wheels that felt like they were made into squares not circles.
A few years back, my fellow snack minion was given directorship of the VBS’ skits. She looked at me and saw untamed genius, chomping at the bit for a chance at glory. Or maybe she saw someone she could make fun of for months in preparation for the adventure was “Time Lab”. I was cast as the naïve, quirky, atheist, intern.
I was as annoying as possible with maybe too many eyerolls and shrugs. I also talked too fast. And did this annoying thing where I’d play with the ends of my lab coat when I got nervous.
“Touch your coat one more time, and I’m cutting off a finger,” my friend would say during notes.
“Sorry,” I’d say then reach for the ends of my lab coat.
Overall, the show went well. The ladies that ran VBS even asked us to come back and do it again the following year. My friend cast us both again as comic relief characters, in addition to editing the script to put in inside jokes. Our names were Moose and Squirrel (a nod to Supernatural), our handshake was stolen from Spiderman: Homecoming, not to mention we named one of the other characters Meg (a villain from Supernatural) De Mon the third (not our subtlest moment).
We had a blast and a larger cast than the year before which led to more adlibs, and overall hilarity. My friend and I played off each other’s energy and brought Moose and Squirrel to the height of stupidity. The best part was after the skits, when I’d change costume and run to crafts where I’d try to convince my team of 6-year-olds that I wasn’t Moose.
“Yea you awr,” They’d giggle. “You juthst changed yawr short.”
“Noooooooo.” I’d grin at them and look back down on the my scratch away craft of a rhino.
Flash forward to college. I saw a poster for the school’s play. It’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe which I thought was a little on the nose for a Christian school but who was I to complain?
So I auditioned.
I put down for the part of Susan (the booky, overbearing sister — since that’s how I am as an older sibling), or the part of Mrs. Beaver (I wrote down that I was perfect for the role because of my buck teeth).
Luckily for me, the director made me read for Lucy, the youngest sibling of the kids and one of the leads in the play.
It was scary at first. But Mindy, (it took me far too long to learn her name), let us all practice lines in the belly of the theater (the place was a heckin maze, I followed people that seemed to know their way around). The people I read with were nice, not to mention understanding when I flubbed words or goofed up.
By the time I got to read with a kid named Colter, I started having fun.
Our scene was when Lucy first finds the world of Narnia through the wardrobe and runs into a fawn named Tumnus. I decided to play it out pretending to walk out backwards from the wardrobe, before running into Tumnus and falling onto my butt.
Was I technically copying and pasting from the 2005 movie that I had seen all of three times?
But we did it anyway. And I saw Mindy smile.
For a second, I wasn’t a scrambling freshman in college but a bright-eyed child still looking at the world with excitement. Maybe there were more parallels than I wanted to see. Regardless, this was different. This wasn’t goofing around with my best friend as a character I could pretend was me.
This was new.
Suddenly, I could hide away in this new world, with new people, and pretend to be a new person still excited about life. I could run from wolves, hug a lion, and meet Father Christmas (that’s Santa to you ignorant swabs).
I could see a world of magic, and hope for something better.
For the first time, in a while, I could breathe. Even when I was stuck in a gosh darn cardigan that was suffocating under the lights (the fur coats weren’t so great either), I felt alive.
I could breathe when I was in the skin of someone else. A world was opening to me, that I’d never experienced before. I could see the snow on the trees despite being made out of cardboard. I ran to Aslan when he returned and tried not to cry. I fell out of the wardrobe with my siblings and felt my stomach drop when we realized we weren’t in Narnia anymore.
I saw a different world.
And I realized that if I tried my best, maybe there was a chance that I could get others to see it too.