The Things Actors Do...

The Things Actors Do...

A Glimpse Into The Trials Actors Face To Tell A Story
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Some of life's biggest moments are portrayed onstage from birth to death. For the average person, the idea of a make out session with someone you've just met in front of a large group of strangers seems really daunting, but for an actor, it's all in a day's work. These onstage experiences are something we actors often forget are not a part of a non-actor's life. As an actor, I often find myself pushing the boundaries of normal behavior because my embarrassment threshold is very low when it comes to being the center of attention.

For example, I am currently in a directing class intended for English majors who may need to run theatre programs for youth when they become teachers. In the class, some of us serve as directors while the rest make up the actors, which of course rotates per exercise. Since we are performing about one-minute scenes, not very many crazy out there things can happen, but I was surprised to find some fellow students timid to read lines from the script with the intended emotion.

For many of them, this is their first real theatre class, so of course, shyness is expected, but after spending two years in the theatre department, I forgot that not everyone is as comfortable as us with getting up there and baring our heart to the world.our heart to the world.baring our heart to the world.

While directing my classmates in scenes, I've found that opening them up to becoming comfortable while performing is a much larger part of the process than it is during my other acting classes, and it got me thinking about all the crazy things I've done and seen done onstage that most actors don't think twice about.

Beginning with kissing, I've personally kissed seven different people for onstage purposes, including some that were just for a scene in class, or during an understudy run. But they're all fake, you say! No, actually. I've only done a staged kiss with one of those seven people, because, on the whole, most actors, in my experience, prefer a real kiss because it looks more authentic and helps to establish the relationship in a more realistic way.

Is it awkward? Of course, it is the first few times! Especially if you're an understudy and you have to just go for it because it's your one shot at practice! But kissing is simple compared to some other things we are asked to do.

Marriage is another common occurrence in theatre. Everything is there from the dress to the witnesses to the ceremony itself. It kinda takes the magic out of waiting for your special day when you get "married" five times a week for nine weeks. And along with marriage comes children and that manifests itself in many forms onstage from pregnancy tests to labor.

Currently in "American Idiot," my character faces an unexpected pregnancy from the moment she finds out and has to tell her boyfriend, through the baby bump, all the way to carrying around two separate baby dolls around stage who are just as much my scene partners as my fellow actors. I have played characters who have had babies before, but this show marks my first time wearing a baby bump, and to be honest, it took some getting used to, but as with everything in theatre, your character overwhelms your own feelings and you become one with how your character feels about their situation.

On the topic of children, sex is another big moment shown on stage. With every passing year, more and more shows show nudity, stripping, and sex onstage, for example, "Heathers the Musical" where two characters have sex while singing a song and two other characters also strip onstage in the hopes of getting lucky themselves.

Which finally brings me to one of the most questionable onstage actions, rape. I have personally auditioned for a show where I had to say whether I was comfortable performing in a simulated rape onstage.

I wasn't in the show, but watching that scene was not easy. And it brings me to the ethical question of what you personally are comfortable with doing onstage from cussing to simulating rape. How far are you willing to go to tell the story?

At the end of the day, reflecting on all of the crazy things I've seen and done onstage it seems bizarre that people pay to watch actors live some of life's most personal moments. But I can't imagine my life any different because, at the end of the day, I love what I do, and what I do to tell my characters' story to the audience.

Cover Image Credit: James Ramirez

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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This piece is intended to be a satire of an experience at Coachella.

With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Harasta

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I'm Only A High Schooler And I Already Want To Move Out

What it's like being a high-schooler with major FOMO.
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FOMO is defined as a feeling of anxiety that you are missing out on something. Something happening elsewhere.

That elsewhere... that's an important part.

When you get that feeling of FOMO, are sick of your weather or want to be able to do your dream job, moving is a common option you could follow. For many starting a new life in a new place meeting new people and changing your life is just a move-out away.

At least for me, moving out as a high schooler feels impossible.

There are a plethora of obstacles to cross before I even can think about packing a bag. Obstacles that I can't necessarily cross without ending on a terrible note with my friends and family.

Both of which are groups of people who are pretty great human beings who treat me well and with great respect. And there's no absolute need to leave the town I've grown up in other than the feeling that I don't belong there.

See, there's a story behind my wanting to move out.

The thing is last year I started my own company, and that experience changed me as a person. It changed what I wanted and needed out of my life. But, more importantly, it changed the way that I see things.

Right now, I live in a true suburb of Michigan. The opportunities are stale. My school doesn't have many entrepreneurs who are spending their time trying to deliver entirely new products. There's pretty much no major tech or design sector in my area, no startup competitions.

The environment around me is focused on acing your tests, doing well in school and then going to a good college. There's no latter. You are expected, as a high schooler, to simply focus on doing well in school.

There's nothing wrong with doing that, but the problem for me is that the environment doesn't seem like it's totally ready to be engaged and prepared to merge and integrate with an entirely new community of entrepreneurs and freelancers that don't spend their time trying to be a super-great student.

Like many other communities around, it's getting there. But it's still going to take some good time, from my eyes.

For me, that's a problem.

I'm trying to move at the fastest pace possible and living in a suburb of Detroit just doesn't feel like enough. I feel like I could do so much more if I was walking through the streets of Chicago, Phoenix or Baltimore.

But my hometown?

No. Definitely not.

My will to move to a big city pulses quickly. I love the crowd, the rush of innovation, the emblazoned cultures masking the streets of a good downtown. The amazing design of buildings scraping the clouds and lighting up the night.

I don't want to live my young life settling down. I want to hustle.

Of course, the time to go to university isn't too far away. I can move to a city then.

If it was only that simple.

The thing is, it's not just the fact that I'm living in an environment where I don't get a chance to grow fast. This is a town where I've experienced many failures. Many regrets.

It's still snowing, and it's the middle of April.

The competitions I want to compete in were only meant for people over 18. There aren't many clients around here that seemed as serious in working with me as I was with them.

Every time I wake up, I have to be reminded of times I couldn't achieve everything. I have to feel the cutting, cold wind blast through my face as I walk to a school at 5 AM (Yes, that outrageously early for a zero hour). I can only spend my time researching what it's like to live somewhere else.

Then, there are just the traditional high-schooler needs. I want to be independent, making my own decisions, sleep at the times that I decide. Make my own work times. Interact with people when I decide to. Go out and do what I decide.

I struggle with the fact that I still have to bend to rules that I sometimes don't want to. Especially when the best ideas always seem to hit me at 1 AM while I'm tossing and turning in bed.

I still remember a time when this will to move hit me hard. It almost felt like a movie scene.

I was in Boulder, fascinated with the city. I was wearing a mere sweater. The warm air, the beauty of the town, the live and animated downtown felt like a place that I could run into and thrive.

Then when I flew back to Michigan, I walked into the car. Water bottles are brutally freezing, the car brittle with Michigan winter in the heart of the cold. Drive back home and without coming in, scrape the driveway of its massive snow.

I'm freezing. The land feels almost dead compared to Boulder. More relaxed. More settled.

It's like the land was telling me "this isn't the place you want to end up. You miss Boulder because there, you don't feel any FOMO."

Since then I've taken multiple "Should I move?" quizzes. The answer always ends up as a solid "yes."

It feels like I'm trapped in a place I don't belong in. A place where the weather genuinely shocked me in the worst ways possible.

I feel stuck, bent by the expectations of society. Where breaking free means driving at least 30 minutes away for an opportunity I could have tried to achieve in a bolder city.

I can't do much but hope for the day I can live. My days are spent coping the only way I know how.

Finding a nice city and quickly launch my own personal research project, in which I go to apartments.com and finding apartments I would want to live in. Search for what it's like to live in the city. Check the weather. Change the weather widget on my phone to that city. Do whatever I can to act as if I live there. Imagine myself in those apartments as if I already made it.

I can only respect the place that I grew up in. But when there's no out, respect is the last thing on my mind.

I have to hope that eventually, an opportunity will see me and I will be able to leave and live my dream.

Until then, I've got to live on a prayer.

Cover Image Credit: Shaurya Pandya

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