I recently learned what it is to be proud of little things; little failures and little successes.
I was hesitant to accept when the director asked, “Will you be my Beatrice?”
Was I ready for a role of so many lines? And Shakespeare of all things?!
I told her I was give her my answer the next day, and so I went to my room and read the play so I could understand the time commitment. I fell in love with Beatrice, her poetic insults, and I related to her so much. I had the time and will, and even though I didn’t know what to expect from other students, I accepted.
I’ve been fighting all semester (all year actually) to earn the attention of my acting professor, and I was hesitant to invite him to the show, especially after some incredibly tough runs. “It’s a student production,” I warned, “But it would mean a lot if you came if only to see me and how much stronger I’m becoming.”
It’s not my place to call out the inexperienced and untrained, I’m not as experienced or trained as I’d like to be, but I learned so much about my human self. I learned how much discipline it took me as a theatre major to keep up my image and come to rehearsals early when many others would meander in maybe fifteen minutes late every day. It took a lot to not bite another actor who attempted to direct me when the director had a note. It took more than I had to not explode at other actors who didn’t have their lines memorized during tech week. I became so anxious when the school newspaper published an article advertising the play. In short, it was a student production and it allowed a lot of growth. You can read more about the production at Ashley Clarke’s (the director) website Shakespeare at the Bury.
I was overly excited when my acting professor texted me first (yes, as if a boy had texted me first) asking when the show started. It started late, after a Valentine’s Day concert. It wouldn’t end until even later.
To my surprise, he came. To my disappointment, he didn’t stay.
I set up a meeting to ask him about it; I didn’t want to be offended if there was no offense to be taken. He did have good excuse for not staying, but from what he saw he said, “Be proud of it.”
“You had clear intentions. I could always tell exactly what you were doing. And you understood what you were saying, not just talking at other people.” Don’t get me wrong, he gave me plenty of notes such as internalizing my energy more and even going about my character in a totally different way, but he liked my acting. I told him how hard it was to work with some of the new actors who would only talk the words and stand static.
“But you should be proud of it.” He told me. A production he didn’t even like, and I should be proud of it. “You memorized all those lines, you researched your character, and you channeled your energy. You worked so hard. So be proud of it.”
I learned a lot about pride. I’m already a lot more insecure than I let show, but I couldn’t even fake being proud of the show. Don’t hear me say that it was a bad show, because it wasn’t. It was just hard throwing so much of my energy at it and only getting little sparks of it back. I always encouraged my co-actors but it was hard to take encouragement back.
Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
When my friends would ask me about rehearsals, I would share my concerns and tell them that I was doing as best as I could but I really wasn’t sure how the show would come together. Somehow, it did. The audience would laugh at the jokes and insults, and the show received many compliments and emails. Including some from my acting professor.
He didn’t like the show. It was an inexperienced student production and didn’t meet his professional standards. But I should be proud of it because it showed my growth. What I learned from the show and the process was worth every bit of frustration. Many of the audience loved it, but not him. I expected no less.
However, he saw me, and he liked me. And that meant the world.