Hey diddly dee, an actor’s life for me. Disney’s Pinocchio decided that an actor’s life was just the kind of life he wanted. What was the appeal? All actors know that you can hide behind a mask of sorts and display characteristics that you normally would never exhibit. You can become another person for a little while and then go back to being yourself when you’re finished. My acting career took off when I was about five. I realized I could become the center of attention if I danced, twirled my baton or sang in front of people. I didn’t have a very good opinion of myself as a child. When I became a chubby teenager, my acting skills helped me get through adolescence because that mask I had earlier created was becoming a necessary part of my persona.
I grew up falling in love with the movies and early television shows. Theatre became a huge part of my existence, but it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized I had a special place in my heart for it. Going back to college in my forties, wasn’t really in the plan, but at the time we were financially able. I was eager to get a drama program started at my kids’ high school. It led to a 13-year gig as the volunteer drama director for my own children as well as many others. It was an amazing experience, which got me back into something I always loved doing and sharing my experience with young thespians.
I always told my students that being on stage was a chance for them to become someone else for a while, but that they should never forget who they were – that they had value and purpose – that they had more talent than they realized – that the skills they learned in acting would help them in whatever career they chose to pursue. Not only would they have confidence performing before others, but their communication skills would improve. They would learn how to work as a team to solve problems. Those tools are invaluable in any line of work.
Some of my students went on to careers in theatre, but most of them didn’t. Getting that big break is never as easy as it sounds. Having a backup plan is always a good idea, but the lure of theatre is very addictive. At 80 years old, I’m still involved in it. I probably will die onstage someday, and it won’t be a scene from Shakespeare,
So, celebrate Actors’ Day today. Go to a play in a local theatre. Watch an old movie and see how acting styles have changed over the years. Get involved in some acting yourself. It’s a great way to meet new friends, try something new and pull you out of your shell.
“The learning process continues until the day you die.” Kirk Douglas