As I walked from the Red Line to my first acting class at ActOne Studios today, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. The oddest sensation of all was actually feeling kind of nervous about the whole ordeal. I took a moment to try to figure it out because, well, heck, what did I have to be nervous about? I’ve auditioned for shows, been on stage, sung for friends and strangers alike; what it could it possibly be about going to this class that made me nervous?
Was it a knee-jerk reaction to wanting to be liked? I’m not saying I’m an overly likable person, but I’ve never had much difficulty getting along with folks, so I didn’t imagine it was that. Could it be that I was intimidated by the prospect of breaking down the craft that I’ve grown to love because I hadn’t done it before? Bingo.
That’s not to say that I thought I was “above” taking classes, because, well, if that was the case, I wouldn’t have bothered signing up for a class (let alone two of them). I think my hesitance or intimidation about the situation comes from a very basic human instinct: to avoid vulnerability. By taking these classes, I’ve come to realize that I have to make myself vulnerable to the process of learning how to act, rather than all I’ve been doing, that is, reacting. Essentially, opening myself up to criticism, failure and growth to take the most out of this process and, hopefully, come out the other end of it a much better actor.
So, I made it through my first class, doing improv exercises (which, in my humble opinion, are going to go the farthest in breaking me down and building me back up), communicating without words, creating conflict, sitting on my hands (quite literally; go ahead and laugh, those of you who know of my wild gesticulations during conversations) and learning how to act and react to what your partner gives you. In all, it went really well. However, I experienced another initially un-explainable feeling as I was waiting for the train home, which was a kind of moody confusion. I know I didn’t feel that way the whole way to the train station, I just sort of realized it as I stood on the platform.
The confusion was oddly liberating in a way; here I was fresh off of this first class having had a bunch of new ideas and concepts thrown at me, ones that made sense to me, but weren’t already part of my process as an actor and, as I stood there mulling them over before heading home, I figured out that my confusion was the first step in this process of vulnerability and growth. Having our core set of ideas or values or any preset way of thinking challenged is confusing at first, but, in the end up, it’s what we do with that confusion that makes us who we are.
In my honest opinion, I’m excited to see where this confusion takes me.