Friday, July 16, 2010

An Opportunity to Swear

As a somewhat dramatic youth I had long wanted to play John Proctor in the Arthur Miller play, The Crucible. And since my high school theater group wasn't doing it, I asked my good friend Melissa to play Abigail Williams and chose an excerpt from the play to perform at the regional drama competition. Not only was it a thrill to be playing the part of John Proctor, but my counterpart was really into it and a really good actress to boot. But the best part; I got to say the "B" word. I practiced throwing her down and played with different intonations and levels of volume in saying my angry lines, pretending that deep down I understood the depth of emotions that my character felt. I was secretly proud that Melissa had bruises on her leg from our feigned tussle. Getting lost in emotions at that age in front of people can be a thrill if not addicting.

So the stage was set for our performance at the regional competition. We put on our lame costumes, a smattering of pieced together found objects from long forgotten cardboard boxes of rejected costumes. And with my 15 year old baby face and short blondish hair I strode out confidently. We performed and got high marks, high enough to earn a spot at the state competition. I was sure my swearing caused the judges to take us more seriously.

When we arrived at the state competition, we were crestfallen to find that another young couple was performing the exact same scene. We had a chance to watch them and were encouraged by what we saw. The actor playing John Proctor didn't even say the "B" word as he calmly willed his counterpart to the ground. Instead he called her a "Beast". Ha! We had them! We poked fun at their performance as we strode away confident that my willingness to swear and her willingness to show lots of leg would shock the judges into handing us high marks. I would show that John Proctor a thing or two about handling pesky fatal attractions!

The stage was set again, and we took our places in the same lame costumes brandishing our pride. I think when one is that age, they imagine themselves to look much cooler than they are. I have since seen pictures of myself from that very trip and am sure now that what I assumed were the judges being shaken by our performance was actually embarrassment at seeing two cocky teenagers taking themselves way too seriously, the one unnaturally seductive, the other swearing deliberately and emphatically. The judges must have liked the editing, because they ousted us and sent the other couple to the finals to win 3rd place.