Into the Spotlight

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My heart pounds loudly. My stomach flutters. I wait. On the wings of a stage is a humbling place to be. So many actors, some good and some average, have stood on this exact same spot, waiting, just like I am, for our glory or doom to come. Nothing I do will clear this nervous fear that rides in my stomach, threatening to overcome. Even taking deep breaths does not help. I am forced to wait, to let my mind wander.

I think back to the first time I ever read the script of Shakespeare’s Midsummer’s Night’s Dream. This was ten weeks ago and even then I knew that Pyramus and I were destined to hate each other. He was the very thing I loathe in a man; air-headed, swooningly romantic, heroic and would rather kill himself for love instead of sorting it out like a real man. So we could all understand it we all took different parts to read aloud.

Do not get me wrong or anything; I love Shakespeare. I love the melodious, poetic speech that intertwines itself with the characters, showing humour and sorrow that has not and will not ever age. Yes, it is hard to understand and some phrases have many meanings but it’s like a code, once you have the key, you reveal and understand the message bit by bit until it is as clear as common-day speech. People were not all that different even then, well, maybe a bit more heroic unless it came to love of course.

That day we were assigned parts. My drama teacher is a genius and practically lives for Shakespeare so much that he almost looks like him but he has a warped sense of humour. As soon as he saw my dislike of Pyramus, I was assigned to him and no amount of protesting could dissuade him. Pyramus was rightfully mine. I had a mystifying time coming to grips with his character, for a start being a female playing a dramatically male hero and acting like a lovesick fool, and then a broken hearted dead man, was not easy. It was Romeo and Juliet all over again, almost literally by the letter. Honestly, what does Shakespeare find so attractive with tragedy?
After a while I started to understand Pyramus, maybe he was tired of being led by someone else hand and when he thought that his belovedd Thisbe died maybe he died as well. Would I be as dedicated to someone like that? In the end I respected and pitied him.

Suddenly I am brought down to the present with a sharp prod and a whisper “your on in one minute”. I take a deep, solid breath. Immediately, all my fears are gone. This is the moment, the most crucial moment for any actor. The time they transform themselves into something else. In one minuet they can become anything, a model, a police officer, a young girl, a lovesick man, a hero.

The clapping dies down. I take one step and catch a glimpse of the crowd waiting expectantly. I take another and like a floating mist, my previous fears seem stupid, trivial. The crowd is just one big blur.
In one heroic, purposeful stride, I am under the full power and magnificence of the spotlight…





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