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All the World’s a Stage

October 5, 2018
By Darren Fraser , Emmetsburg News

"And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts..."

Jaques to Duke Senior in "As You Like It."

Last year at this time I was in Paris. I decided to take a Shakespeare class -- to break up the monotony of eating baguettes and pretending I was Canadian.

The class was taught by a English expat with that inimically droll English sense of humor.

My classmates included an American, a Norwegian, a few French and a Spaniard. Their reasons for taking the class varied. I believe the Norwegian lad said he wanted to improve his public speaking. He worked for a multinational company and part of his job description involved speaking to English-speakers all over the world. I can only hope he didn't ham it up too much when delivering a PowerPoint presentation to the guys Singapore.

Like me, the other students took the class because they love Shakespeare. "He was not of an age, but of all time!" said Ben Jonson of the bard.

I mention my class because Main Street Community Theater held auctions this week for its December production of "It's a Wonderful Life." I would have gladly given Tom Cruise's jawbone to have tried out for the play. I hope MSCT's Jackie VanOosbree and Peggy Stolley, the play's director, had a good turnout of would-be thespians. If the duo has not found their George Bailey, I publicly throw my hat into the ring for the role.

I am by no means an actor. I had to deliver the above monlogue for one of my assignments in my class. Despite rehearsing it until I thought I knew the lines better than I know my name, I still flubbed a word or two. I recovered; nor do I think I shamed poor William by my delivery.

Acting is freeing. For any of you who throw up at the thought of public speaking, take an acting class. If you are shy, take an acting class. If you are outgoing, take an acting class. You will discover things about yourself that will blow your mind.

What I discovered about acting is it is opposite of what you think it is. You are not playing a role; you are playing yourself. You do not act to elicit a response from the audience; you act so the audience will form its own response.

If your character is sad, you reach deep into your memory warehouse and recall that moment when you learned Santa Claus was Mr. Smith from the Kiwanis Club.

If your character is angry, you better tap into real anger; otherwise, the audience will know you're faking.

The greatest thing I discovered about acting is it is real. The words aren't yours, but the emotions are.

Think on this for a moment. Where else in life do you have license to laugh uproariously, scream hysterically, speak WITHOUT being interrupted and deliver some of the greatest lines ever written??(Unless you are in a David Mamet play; then you are dropping expletives right and left.) Where else in our structured society are you encouraged to tap into raw emotion and flesh it out? To act the fool and not be mocked on social media? To play a racist, a priest, a lover, a clown, a king, queen, duke, earl or baron -- or duchess, baroness, etc.

I did a story last month on MSCT. If you have not attended a production, pay the five or ten buck ticket price and go. The theater is a perfect venue. Large but not cavernous. From what I could tell, the acoustics are sound (pun intended). The theater has a relatively new stage. The seats appear comfortable. I know Vanoosbree and Stolley have expended significant time and energy into preparing for this production.

Instead of dropping eight bucks on the lastest Marvel or DC retread, take in some live theater this holiday season. Or as Shakespear would say:

"I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;

Speak and look back, and pry on every side,

Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,

Intending deep suspicion."



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