“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come". - (Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene II).
All you need do is imagine a young man with a relatively high pitched voice, a top a high school stage in white garbs and a very haphazard laurel wreath crown, that looks like it could have just been thrown together with autumn leaves from outside the theatre and super glue. That was I, thespian extraordinaire, as I dazzled the small but enthusiastic crowd that gathered to watch friends and family rather embarrass themselves. Goodness was I not spectacular? With the oration rivaling that of the mighty Julius himself, I marched around the stage brimming with confidence, commanding the attentions of onlookers with brazen conceit. It was a spectacle, a marvel for all to see, much like the properties for sale in The Wilds Estate.
Let me be a smidgen more honest with you. I was not that good. I was certainly no Marlon Brando or Al Pacino, but I was good. It was not the only theatre production I was involved in either. Throughout the course of high school, I dabbled here and there in the thespian arts, albeit usually at the request of a type casting theatre of music teacher, or a friend who wanted to be a part of a production but was too nervous and cowardly to join one on their own! Nonetheless, my career on the stage was surprisingly long, prosperous and littered with different types and kinds of performances and production.
In 9th grade, we were all required to participate in one form or another in the class musical. The musical was always organized, directed and produced by the presiding class music teacher – for us in the 9th grade that was the hilarious and caring Mr. Don Kawash, assisted by the young and amicable David Buffum. “Damn Yankees” was the musical of choice. Singing and acting! We felt great about it as a grade, but in retrospect the production itself was rather tame, the singing off-pitch, and the dialogue robotic and unbelievable; but hey, we were 15! In 10th grade, at the behest of my knuckle-head best friends (and partners in rather mischievous crimes against school and class etiquette – don’t tell my mom), I starred in the famous West Side Story musical, as one of the Puerto Rican gang members. My two friends and I had a dance in a huge fight scene choreographed for us, and we were absolutely riveting (or so our friends and family joked). Despite their sarcasm, I really enjoyed it. I was at it again in 11th grade. However, it was my performance in a production during my 12th grade year that was the highlight of my career. Having witnessed my oratory prowess over the course of my scholastic career, the head of the theatre department (I forget her name, I must concede), asked me to be one of two actors to do a scene for a huge school assembly. We prepared a scene from Athol Fugard’s “My Children, My Africa”, a play contending with race relations toward the end of the apartheid era in South Africa. There were only two of us on stage, two extremely long monologues, sandwiched between intense and intellectual dialogue, culminating in a strange demonstration of romantic attraction via unspoken and tacit behaviors. With nowhere to hide on stage, all eyes on us, I will never forget the silence, the overpowering curiosity and anxiety the six hundred plus spectators exuded. We were brilliant… I will truly never forget it.
I still appreciate the theatre to this day. Little is understood about how difficult it is to become a good actor, because the best of them make it look easy – so much so that we forget as observers that they are acting. If you haven’t enjoyed the privilege of watching a theatre production, I beseech you, to look no further than the nearby facilities to The Wilds. There you will find that there is the Barnyard Theatre Parkview. Here, perhaps you too can get a savory taste of the magic that is theatre productions and might even find that you are interested in going to auditions yourself. You could conceivably, find yourself captivating crowds, as I once majestically did in my younger days. So what is it going to be?
For as we very well know, “to be or not to be, that is the question”!