Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Drama in my life

A whole month and more has gone by without my writing a single post here on my blog.  It wasn't that I had nothing of interest to blog about, but rather that I hadn't enough time to blog because of too many interesting things. Foremost among them has been a new acting class at the Skillman Southwestern branch library.  My first foray (in my entire life) into acting was back in February with a class focusing on Shakespeare taught by Hassan El-Amin of the Dallas Theater Center.  Fourteen very diverse "senior" individuals came together, learned, laughed, and participated in what all agreed was a very enriching experience.  So much so that most of us were unwilling to simply bid adieu and close the door on this new activity.  So we organized ourselves and chose a new project: Spoon River by Edgar Lee Masters.

Now, Spoon River may ring some distant bell for those of you around my age, because I remember bits of it being included in high school English literature anthologies.  It consists of a hundred-plus free verse monologue-poems spoken by the dead of the fictive town of Spoon River.  First published in 1915, it has been adapted to be performed many times over the decades. There's even been one with William Shatner!  To tell the truth, after I started reading through it, I thought it was just too depressing, as Masters was generally critical of small-town life and the people therein.  Plus the 19th century was not all that kind to women, which is amply reflected in these poem portraits.  But, as we chose the characters we wanted to include and honed our interpretation of them, my appreciation of Spoon River grew. There's actually quite a bit of humor in many of them, and there are some lyrical, upbeat ones as well.  We selected it at the end of March, met every other week from April through June, and gave our first performance at the Skillman Southwestern library at the end of June, then another performance at a large senior community at the end of August.  It was totally DIY, in what we chose and how we presented it, including props by one of the members and a program and signage by me.  Mr. C has, of course, been obligated to attend, but this is something I would invite others to see without fear of embarrassment.  And, in fact, we are hoping to present this again at other venues in the future.

In the meantime, right after our last performance, we began a new acting class at the Skillman Southwestern library.  Debbie Rubin, the manager of the library, worked tirelessly to have the Dallas Theater Center supply us with another teacher.  Who turned out to be Michael Schraeder, an actor and drama professor with an impressive resume.  Actually, Mike had some big shoes to fill, because Hassan had wowed us all, but it was very  beneficial to have someone new with a different methodology, especially since for some of us, this was only our second acting class ever.  And this time, instead of choosing something to present, Mike wanted us to write our own short scripts with one or two characters. Oh!  Some in the class wanted to, some didn't, and others, including myself, didn't think we had enough time to do this with any degree of proficiency.  In fact, I was under the impression that the script I wrote was just for a class exercise, which was perhaps all to the good as I would have rewritten and fussed and worried over it far too much otherwise.  I hadn't had any problem learning the monologs by heart, but I discovered it was another matter to learn lines (and deliver them convincingly) when there were other people and their lines involved. Right until the last moment, people were still clutching their scripts and reading their parts.  But, amazingly, the actual performance went off with barely a hitch.  Mr. C professed himself well entertained, saying it was much better than he expected from what I had told him.

We, now called The Skillman Players, owe many thanks to the Skillman Southwestern Library Friends who have graciously sponsored our acting classes, printed up our posters and programs, and provided refreshments at our library performances.  Not to mention being our enthusiastic audience.  So it seems that we, The Skillman Players, are now an established entity.  We're not sure what we'll do next, but after all this, we simply can't not continue. To tell the truth, I've discovered that I really have no desire to be actor, but, on the other hand, I'm enjoying this tremendously.  As one of the other members said to me one day, "I had a bad morning, I've had a bad day, but I come here and forget all of that completely."  

It has been time consuming, and I'm glad to have a little hiatus, so I can dabble in dyeing again and get some sewing done among other things.  But I'm sure I'll soon be ready for some more drama in my life.