At the age of sixteen – a junior in high school – I begged and pleaded with my parents to let me audition for The Chicago Academy for Performing and Visual Arts. And tired of dealing with the whining of their drama queen (me) day in and day out, the parental units finally caved in. So I prepared an aria (I'd been taking classical lessons -opera- for two years) and then decided, what the heck, I might as well give the theater program a shot too.
Long story short, I got in.
But it wasn't for my acting. See, instead of a monologue I performed a scene between two characters. By myself. Yeah, if you ever want to look like a total wackadoo schizo try something from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Maybe something between Big Daddy and Maggie?
Good thing I could sing.
FAME! I'm gonna live forever!
Nightmare audition aside, once you were in, you were in. It took some BIG TIME negotiating with my parents, but, in the end, they decided it would be good for me. Or maybe they just wanted to shut me up. At any rate, I opted to choose drama for my major, still taking those voice lessons once a week.
The days were long. School started at 8:30 and got out at 5. Since we lived in the burbs, I commuted forty-five minutes by train with two other students. Every morning we had our academic courses and the classes rotated. For example, we'd have math for eight weeks, then English, etc. The afternoons were reserved for our chosen majors. And we studied Shakespeare and films and Tennessee Williams. We improvised and we acted and we played "drama" games. Who knows? Maybe one day juggling will come in handy?
While my academic career may had suffered a little bit (did I really need to know what SATs were?), my creativity blossomed. It was at The Academy (what the cool kids call it) where I learned how to get into a character's head, to give them a story, and bring them to life, understanding what drives and motivates them. Frogs? I didn't need no stinking frogs. We dissected people.
I approach my writing the same way. Hey, I may not be the best actress in the world, but it's my hope this training helped me to create believable characters and true to life dialogue. And, maybe, someday someone out there will remember my name...
SOUND OFF: Speaking of actresses, any of you read Hilary Duff's book, Elixir? Have any writing tricks up your sleeve? Have you ever acted out a scene? By yourself? Were you involved in theater?