|Photos courtesy of Susan Campbell|
A few short days ago, I was another person. I was Dolores Dumpfy, and aspiring actress. I was quiet, in a creepy way and I was a suspect in a murder.
No I wasn't taking on an alternate identity because I've started working as an undercover spy. I was performing in a play, "Murder Me Always."
This was no simple whodunit. It was a play within a play that came to a abrupt halt when the director was murdered. As Dolores, this wasn't the first play I'd acted in where a murder had taken place among the cast. So, I was a prime suspect. ***SPOILER ALERT***Alas, despite the certainty of some of the audience members I wasn't the killer. I won't say who was in case you ever have the opportunity to see a production of this play. But it wasn't me. I didn't know this, however, until the first read through of the script.
|Photos courtesy of Susan Campbell|
I had to think long and hard before deciding to audition to be in a play. I knew it would take days out of my week for rehearsals and performances. It would mean that some of the time I would normally be writing or cleaning house would be replaced with reading my script and memorizing my lines. It would be a temporary distraction and addition to my busy schedule. But it would be a creative outlet that I would be doing just for myself. Something outside of the solitary act of writing.
I asked my kids what they thought of the idea. I think my son was ambivalent about it. But my daughter told me "totes magotes, you should do it." It was a risk I decided to take and I enjoyed it very much. It wasn't easy. It was hard memorizing script, and cues for my lines. I didn't have nearly as many as my other cast members, and I didn't have to travel as far to make it to rehearsals as some. Still, it was a challenge and I wasn't able to make it to every single rehearsal. Thankfully, we all had a very forgiving director who gave us the flexibility we needed to make it to as many as we could and still be in the play. When it was all over we were all sad that we wouldn't get to see each other again. We had become a small family of fellow thespians who supported each other even when the lines and scenes didn't always come together exactly as they should have. The audience didn't know and we improvised our way through those moments together.
I learned a lot from the experience. I might not be quite as caught up on my daily writing ventures and tasks as I should be. But being in a different creative endeavor helped me in more ways than it hurt me. I got to know another writer. I literally had to be in character in order for my part to work, something I can really use when I'm struggling to make my written characters come to life. Maybe my dogs will get to see me acting out my stories after this. :D And I learned that when you aren't certain what you are supposed to say next, you improvise. Writers have to do this a lot in their stories. Even when we outline our plots we can't always be certain how they will unfold to get from beginning to that planned ending. And outlines do sometimes have to be revised as you are writing. Best of all it was lovely being around other people who aren't afraid to take a risk and become someone else for a brief moment in time and act in front of a live audience. Despite differences in age, backgrounds, and experience we pulled together and entertained people by living out a story on stage for them. We were a creative cast of characters who were different from our norm and it was fun!
So don't be afraid to take a risk and try a different way to express your creativity. Support your local theatres and area arts and humanities programs. Stretch in new ways as an artist. You will be surprised at what you can learn from the experience.
Please share with me new creative ventures you have pursued and what you've learned from them. Did they help you grow or were they a distraction?