Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thoughts on Harvey

[My goodness, the performances of Harvey were about two weeks ago already. I am terrible at posting in a timely manner. Anyway.]

Harvey is my favorite drama club production as of yet. Perhaps that's a self-focused comment, as this has been the largest role I've had so far, but I think it has to do with more than that.
There were a lot of things that made this year's play so memorable:
There was the influx of ultra-talented newcomers--among them Emmie, Liz, and Peri, who all did wonderfully in the play. There was the excitement of performing on our very own stage, and the unexpected ability to begin practicing onstage as early as the beginning of February. There was the stress-relieving presence of an actual stage crew. And much, much more, of course.
Speaking personally, I think that working on Harvey with this year's drama club really challenged me and pushed me forward. I definitely grew as an actress in order to step into this major role, and I probably grew a little bit as an artist when I took on the project of creating the Elwood-Harvey portrait. (I guess I can say that I know how to use oil pastels now.) This year, Mrs. Z twice called me out as an example for the rest of the club, which was definitely a pleasant surprise. Agonizing--albeit mentally and silently--over practical things like keeping my face and body turned out to the audience had a very rewarding result: they eventually became mostly unconscious, and I was able to focus more on delivering my lines with the proper emotion, facial expressions, and gestures.
Acting, in its essence, is sort of remarkable. It is taking on the character of someone else in order to tell a story. And to become this other person, you must change your appearance, change your mannerisms, and sometimes even change your voice. You must study the things they say to find out how they say it, and you must study their words so well that you know how they'll react to anything another person says--not with the words you've been given in the script, but with actions you have to come up with on your own.
It's not all about the laughs you get, though a laughing audience is probably one of my favorite things in the world. It's also not about the comments you get later about what a great job you did, though those are high up there in my list of favorites too. It is about the story you're telling through your character. I only came to this realization this year because of our two performances instead of one. Here's how it came about:
On the first night, there were more people in the audience that I didn't know than ones I did. On the second night, my family was there, along with like twenty people from church. My performance was more real on the first night (not that the second night was necessarily worse, just less real). I didn't expect it to be. If anything, I expected to be more into the play because all these people I knew were watching, but it didn't turn out that way.
I then realized that on the second night, I was more focused on what my family and friends were thinking than on what Veta was thinking. Thus, I became less Veta and more Davina-playing-Veta. It's a very subtle difference. I don't even know if it was visible, but I definitely felt it. I think it had to do with knowing that the people laughing on the first night were laughing because Veta was funny and I was playing her well, as opposed to the uncertainty of whether people on the second night were laughing because of that, or because it was funny to see Davina with lots of make-up-wrinkles, flailing with a purse.
Or maybe it doesn't matter so much. I don't really know.
I'm not very experienced an actress (I haven't even cried fake tears yet), and I assuredly haven't mastered the art, but Harvey showed me something new about myself. I now love performing. Love love love. It has this addictive quality that I sort of felt before, but never as strongly as the moment I stepped onto the stage on Friday night, March 2nd with my long blue dress and like thirty bobby pins in my hair, and said,

"Yes, dear?"
"Oh no, dear, not with all of them in there..."

1 comment:

Nathan said...

I was laughing at both :)

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