“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts”
I get the metaphor. Entrance and exit. Life and death. But what about the time before the play is over–the entrances and exits– and anxiously hiding in the wings?
I like to think that our lives are a series of entrance and exits; some cues well rehearsed while others, hastily improvised. The set changes and lighting shifts but the main character remains the same in our one person show. William Shakespeare perfectly articulated the parallels between our everyday existence and the portrayal of human life. Except I took Shakespeare’s advice literally. By auditioning for a play.
So three weeks ago I found myself Googling “1 minute woman monologues” in my parked car outside of Northampton Center for the Arts. I had found an ad in the daily paper but it wasn’t until the day of the audition that I got up the nerve to call and schedule an appointment. Just in time to learn I should have a monologue prepared. OOPS. And despite my confusion and not-so-cool business casual attire, I got a small part in a beloved American classic.
Our Town was written by Thornton Wilder in 1938 and continues to be a staple across the country to this day. In fact, the play was produced 4,000 times in the last decade alone. Our Town takes place in Grover’s Corners, NH and explores life, marriage and death in three simple acts. The set is minimal, props are almost non-existant and the narrator or Stage Manager is constantly breaking the 4th wall to speak with the audience directly. My character, Sam Craig, comes in Act 3 as a town resident who has been gone for some time. Both he and the undertaker move about the graveyard visiting the deceased in the quiet, thoughtful way of two people slowly acknowledging the passage of time. Our production of Our Town will be loosely based in Northampton, MA as a tribute to the Center for the Arts. As a newcomer to the area and to the play, my character could not be a more perfect fit.
I am NOT telling you this because I’m the next Kate Winslet or Lucy Lui*. I’m telling you because whether you audition for the local theatre production or not, you are part of Shakespeare’s “stage”. You are your own character. On that Thursday evening in particular, I decided to be an outgoing, crazy theatre character instead of the easier role of introverted bystandard. Every day we wake up and make character choices that determine how other actors and actresses in our lives will respond. My mom used to tell me that, “there are no small parts, only small actors.” And the world needs you to be the truest, biggest and best you there is. It’s type casting in the best possible way.
*I chose Lucy because she can act, not because she’s asian. Racist.