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Ryan...the actor?

October 11, 2010   That’s sort of how I feel now looking back on the past couple of days. I was cast in a five-person play made possible by the student theater group Untitled @ Large this past weekend, performing to a packed house of friends, acquaintances, and passersby in List 106 on Saturday and Sunday night.

Let’s make a couple of things clear: I am not an actor. I did take Theater 101 in my sophomore year, but I’m pretty sure one doesn’t take Bio 101 and then call themselves a doctor. I auditioned for a Director’s Showcase play last year while I was taking the theater class, and I got a part… where I stood on stage without saying a word for the entirety of the play. I wasn't an actor as much as a prop.

Suffice to say, I sort of figured I had turned the page on performing arts once that was over. And it was, until my friend Cameron Breslin ’11 approached me along with a couple of others about the possibility of putting together a play composed of non-actors with him as the director. One read of ‘Dentity Crisis, by Christopher Durang, was enough to convince us this might be worth doing. We rehearsed basically every weeknight for several weeks, learning our lines and becoming the wacky characters we would portray in Durang’s absurdist play about utter family dysfunction. The play ran about 25 minutes, which means that the end result of the hours of preparation came down to just under an hour of performance. And yet it was absolutely worth it in the end, and not just because rehearsal in itself was something I could look forward to on a daily basis because of how much fun it was to be around my ‘playmates.’

I’ve attached a photo we took of our cast as well as the two-person cast of a play that performed right before us. We gathered on a Sunday afternoon knowing we had to take one picture so that we could put it on the promotional posters, and yet we ended up taking 50 pictures in several locations, because that’s the sort of stupid fun that makes life a little more interesting.

Finding new creative outlets is important for anyone. Throwing yourself into something new and different can feel a little nerve-racking, but when it all comes together like it did for us, I’m just sort of left with this sort of wonderful feeling that I’m not altogether sure how to deal with. The performance itself went just about as well as I could have imagined. The people I was surrounded by were all so extraordinarily talented that it probably never could have gone too badly. The two-person play that went on right before us (it was an hour long set between the two plays) was positively delightful, and I’d like to think we followed them well.

Perhaps for a more experienced actor, and some of you reading may be just that, this all sounds like an amateurish observation, but the thrill of having successfully performed in front of my peers, making them laugh, and knowing that they enjoyed themselves hasn’t escaped me yet. Plus, I’ve now got a breezy looking dress from the Salvation Army in my closet because it’s what I wore for the final quarter of the play. What I’ll do with that, I have no idea, but something tells me we’ll do something creative with it. Like I said, I’m no actor, so we’ll see where things go from here. I think I’ll probably audition for a part in one of the Director’s Showcase shows again this semester. Who knows, maybe this time I’ll even get a line.