Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Acting The Part by @AspieWriter #AutismAid

Acting The Part

aspiewriter.wordpress.com | Nov 26th 2012

By the time I was nearing the end of elementary school, I had learned how to live by a script. I learned by watching television, by looking at magazines, and by reading books. In the fourth grade, I learned about my having a period by reading “Are you there God, It’s me Margaret”, by Judy Blume. I read, and re-read that book many times during the fourth and fifth grades.  Margaret became one of my best friends.

“I love my books; all my friends live in there!” ~Me

My friends often lived inside my books, and the television set. I imagined interactions with the characters, and tried to think of what they would say in different situations.  Every interaction was played out in my head before it happened—if I could foresee an event.

For instance if I were to contemplate asking a friend to come over to our house to play, I would have the conversation over and over again in my head before approaching the girl. Many times my own words sounded stupid when I played them and I decided not to offer an invite.

After an interaction, I’d replay the scene hundreds of times judging if I sounded “stupid”. I imagined what could have happened if I said this or that, often berating myself for saying the wrong thing.  My voice, my words were usually wrong so I tried to become other people, to take on other personas.

I tried to be the beautiful model in the picture hanging on the wall of the hair salon. If I could be her then all the girls would want to be my friend. This particular model had extremely short hair, shaved in the back with longer waves on top. The kind of hair you can only get from having professional stylists work on it for hours before a photo shoot, which is something I failed to understand at the time.

I wanted to be her, I wanted that haircut, and so my mother allowed the hairdresser to cut my hair short—very short.

I didn’t look like the model, in fact, I looked like a boy! I of course was unaware of this fact until I went to school the next day.

In the fourth grade a boy’s haircut does not a popular girl make, so I had my ears pierced. For sure now with pretty studded earrings I could not look like a boy, but at school my pretty ears did nothing to detract from my head.

Pretending to be someone else became an obsession. I watched my grandmother’s stories (soap operas) and picked out characters to emulate—definitely not the best role models. When I found out that they were just actors and actresses playing a part, with a script, I knew I needed to be an actress.  I could do a script, and I was already used to dancing on stage so this would be a cinch.

Scripts are just like dance routines, they were choreographed for you and as long as you follow the script you are doing it right.

Anything I want to do, I want to do perfectly. People often tell me that practice makes perfect, but that is not true.

“Perfect practices makes perfect.”

If you routinely practice something the wrong way, you will always do it that way. The only way to achieve perfection is to practice perfectly. I afforded myself no room for error—ever.

I knew nothing about acting so the logical thing to do was to go to acting school.  Vanessa and I convinced our mother’s to sign us up for an acting school in Manhattan.

There was an audition to be accepted. We created our own Toys R Us commercial to include acting, dancing, and singing—it was mostly dancing and singing. We practiced until we had every step and every word down perfectly.

I remember riding the train to the city, excited that I was going to be an actress. The possibility of this not happening, never crossed my mind.

The audition went well and we were accepted. Vanessa and I spent many hours learning how to act, and for the most part it was an exciting and fun experience. The problem happened when one day we were given no scripts—improvisation.

Our assignment was to perform a simple silent skit, no words, and no props of any kind. I felt the ball bouncing around in my stomach, the tears welling up in my eyes. My insides felt like they were shaking; panic was setting in.

I could not do it—I wound up acting out the task of making macaroni and cheese in my kitchen.  It was the disaster that ending my acting school career.

Although I continued to try to adopt different personas looking for a person that I could be, I was not very good at the task. I was able to adopt a precious few, but had tremendous difficulty switching between them, rearing from the carefully constructed script. Not all personas work in every situation.

Original Page: http://aspiewriter.wordpress.com/2012/11/26/acting-the-part/

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