Embarrassing Memories and Awkward Moments with TRL, Part 1

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The birds are irrelevant, but cute are they not? Now for the content!

To say that high school was embarrassing for me is a gigantic understatement. Demoralizing is a more accurate word.

Yesterday, I was thinking about all my unpleasant memories, especially all the ones related to theater. From doing improv with my dad and writing plays, I have enjoyed being dramatic for quite a long time, whether I knew what I was doing or no. I was thrilled to finally join the theater program in high school and do it for real. I’ll never forget how my teacher once said that I was “a good little actress” when I was a freshman. I thought I had a promising “career” ahead of me. 

It was my dream to get a part in one of the plays other than the musical, where anyone could get a part. I would watch the older kids do it, thinking that it was wonderful, imagining what it must have felt like to be near the top of a cast list! 

I finally did get a part, a small part, but that was okay because it was my first time. I was Betty Chumley, a forgettable but charming character from “Harvey.”

The next year, I had higher expectations. My teacher hinted to me that I might be in for something bigger- one of the lead rolls in Neil Simon’s “Rumors.” I was positively thrilled, and I had to audition, there was no question.

I made it to that audition, even in my sickness. But I didn’t get the part. It was devastating at first, but I knew that the girl who got it deserved it. I coaxed myself into being a good sport about it.

I got to be a tough cop in that play, which was a lot of fun. But I struggled with the part. I never felt like I was doing a good job with it during rehearsals. And the worst part was that at a certain point in the play, my friend and I would always start cracking up. We did this all the way up to opening night. Thank God we got our act together before the audience saw it! 

I never felt like I had a perfect performance to wrap up my acting career. I felt a little uncomfortable on stage in general, which made it difficult. I never knew what to do with my hands (even a problem I have in normal situations). I felt like I had hit my brick wall, like I wasn’t getting better, maybe I was even worse than when I was younger, because I’d grown more self conscious. I’d always thought I was okay at acting, but I made the sad realization that I’d probably never be any better than mediocre. It was a blow to my self esteem. 

And now, of course, I must tell you the embarrassing memory, as promised! As I mentioned, I was sick for the audition. Well, I was also sick for the second week of performances. But I sucked it up because that was all that could be done. The problem was the coughing. But I’d take some cough drops before I went on stage (I didn’t take the drugs because I thought they didn’t work anyway, but now I WISH I DID. The things we come to regret). I thought I could keep getting away with it, hoping that the natural tension of being on stage would prevent me from coughing… until one day, I lost my voice on stage. I kept talking, I was saying my lines because I didn’t know what else to do, I was too shell shocked to improv, to play it off like part of the show. I just kept talking, and the feeble words came out awkwardly. I sounded like a raspy old man on his death bed. I could feel the heat of the lights, the tense silence of the audience. They felt sorry for me, and I wanted to die.

I made my exit, thankfully, and proceeded to cough my brains off offstage, trying to be quiet, probably not succeeding at all. Then, thankfully, I reentered, and my voice was back. At least I had a chance to redeem myself. Afterwards I started crying, mortally humiliated because my dad was out there, watching me for the first time. My fellow cast members made me feel better, and I wiped my tears for my appearance at curtain call.

So that was an embarrassing theater memory! I will be posting more awkward high school moments, and what I learned from them tomorrow. But for now,  a piece of advice- if you’re in a high school play and you have a bad cough- take the drugs! Do you hear me! Drugs!

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