Something About Nothing published the week of March 6, 2017 in the Albert Lea Tribune and the Courier Sentinel.
When I was a little girl I wanted to be an actress. I suppose in today’s world I would say I wanted to be an actor. The word actress seems to have gone away in this politically correct world we now live in.
During my high school years I participated in drama and had a few nondescript roles. I enjoyed being behind the scenes, and my insecurities about my looks and my talent kept me from trying out for more roles.
In my middle adult years, I got involved in the drama departments in the high school when my kids participated, mostly behind the scenes with costumes. It was actually during one of those times I took the stage again as the front part of a dancing horse in the “Music Man.” It happened by accident when my friend Peggy and I, who was also doing costumes, put on the horse costume for fun and pranced around the auditorium to see what it felt like inside the costume. Mark Rud, who was directing the extravaganza at NRHEG, saw us and decided it would be fun if we became part of the play. No one would know who we were and we were to dance in pulling the Wells Fargo wagon, do a little jig and exit the stage. I must admit it was so much fun to do and my friend Peggy and I remember it to this day and — we almost fell off the stage because we couldn’t see where we were going.
A little later in my life, I and my family got involved in Albert Lea Community Theatre, my daughter in the musical, “Heidi,” and my husband in “Heidi” and “Peter Pan.” They talked me into trying out for a role in “I Remember Mama.” I actually got the part of one of the aunts. I suspect I got the part not because I was good, because I wasn’t, and the word ostentatious seemed to trip me up on a few nights because I couldn’t remember the word in my lines. Now I ask who doesn’t remember a word like that? I think I got the part because of my height, and I matched the person who played my husband. I felt I had come full circle because I had also been in the play in high school.
My favorite and fun part while being a part of the community theater was in an “Alice in Wonderland” play as part of a program they put on for school children each year. I got to play the Dodo bird in full costume. I loved it. Looking back, I think I would have been a better actress if I would have went for the costumed silly parts, because I loved them and they were so much fun. There were no nerves involved in being silly, even if I had lines.
The Albert Lea Community Theatre has been around for many years. This past weekend we attended a performance of “12 Angry Jurors.” As a mystery writer, it got my creative juices going. The cast superbly played the part of disagreeing jurors. Not only did they show their frustration at the process, but they conveyed the vulnerability of each juror coming from different experiences in their lives. Those experiences might or might not influence decisions one makes about someone else’s life, and in this case, whether a young man will be prosecuted, put in jail and possibly put to death. The cast played all of these emotions and kept the audience drawn in so that the time passed so quickly we were surprised when it was over.
As a writer, I wanted more. I wanted to know what happened when that jury went back into the courtroom and gave their verdict. I wanted to know if years down the road they were right or wrong. I wanted to know what happened to each one of them in their lives, and I wanted to know the impact the discussion to reach the verdict had on the way they would view others when they walked out of that jury room. The director and cast told the story so well they kept us wanting more.
The arts are important. If you have not experienced Albert Lea Community Theatre, I would highly recommend seeing their productions or getting involved as a volunteer. There is so much emphasis on the sporting world for kids, the arts and humanities are not always encouraged. It hasn’t been until recently that arts have come into their own as a respected medium. Our children should be encouraged to explore the arts because not every student has the ability or the desire to participate in sports, but they may be great at acting, painting or expressing themselves positively another way through a different medium.
I, myself, know because I have dabbled in it — acting where you must remember lines is not for me. I am better at the improv. I never could remember lines or deliver lines appropriately even in my good memory years. I wouldn’t know that unless I had the chance to experience it. My children have all had that experience from their high schools and hobbies. One loved it so much it has been a staple of her life, bringing that experience to complement her career.
We are fortunate to have opportunities in our area, even in small communities, to give all the experience of the arts whether it is by participating or viewing. As Mikey from the Life commercial would say, “Try it, you might like it.”