“Last week in acting class, a girl started crying and everyone was jealous.”
-Me, trying to explain why I’m quitting acting.
I have a history with acting. Every couple of years I get it in my head that maybe I could do that. Note to future self: I cannot do that.
In high school I auditioned for a play and threw myself a congratulatory party when I made it through round one of callbacks. I did not make it past day two. Then in college I took an acting class as an elective and that’s where things really went bad.
My first monologue was a dramatic one where I gave an emotional speech. Halfway through presenting, I turned away from the class and quickly dabbed concentrated peppermint oil in my eyes before turning back. The idea of course, was to cry and to hopefully make it look authentic.
“Oh my god, did you see Nicole’s piece?” my fellow classmates would say.
“And when she turned around and started crying? Inspiring.”
Unfortunately, the peppermint oil failed to produce tears. Instead my eyes began to burn. If you’ve ever gotten hot sauce in your eye while eating a burrito (it happens), you’ll know the feeling. I stood there and delivered the rest of my monologue with my eyes twitching and my voice cracking from the pain. Afterwards I ran to the bathroom and found that my eyes were redder than Stalin. For my efforts? On the last day of class, after delivering one final monologue this time sans peppermint, my teacher pulled me aside and said,
“I think you’re a great writer. And I think you should stick to writing.”
I did not take the hint. A few months ago I decided I would pick a hobby and a week after that I found myself in a studio with eight other hopeful actors. The bright side was that none of us knew what we were doing. The downside was that none of us knew what we were doing.
The first few weeks were fine. I passed the time imagining acting in a Scorsese mob movie and discussing Game of Thrones theories.
“Are you discussing Game of Thrones?” My teacher asked one day. “That Peter Dinklage is such a terrible actor, isn’t he?”
“No.” I said. “He’s not.”
And that was about the time I stopped trusting my teacher. Every word of advice became suspect, every opinion untrustworthy. He might say an actor should believe in what they’re saying, and I would try my script without believing.
“This is not real. It’s all fake.” I would tell myself. It didn’t really matter. Whether or not I surrendered to his well-intentioned advice, my first attempt was always bad and my second attempt was always ‘better’. That’s just how a beginning level acting class works.
I finally (after lasting three months) turned in my resignation after missing three classes in a month. Two were because I was out of town, and one was because I was behind on a self-appointed writing deadline. And, to be completely honest, I was pretty done by that point. One day in class a girl started crying while delivering her monologue and our teacher had her stand there for fifteen minutes while we watched her sniffle. The absurd part was how jealous I was. I felt exactly how I imagined my classmates would have felt if I could have pulled off the peppermint oil tears.
This all leads me to today. I have three classes left that are already paid for and, mostly to prove a friend wrong, I am determined to go to all three. Which is how I ended up in my most awkward class yet this morning.
I show up to class and the teacher hands out monologues. I make up my character circumstances (the only thing I am very good at) and give my monologue. He gives me corrections, I give it again, he says it’s better. Same as always. Then a woman shows up.
“I just wanted to come and see my new level three students.” She purrs, her smile hanging halfway off her face. Level three? I think. No one has mentioned moving up to level three.
“Oh, I haven’t told them who’s moving up yet.” My teacher says. Something is obviously making him uncomfortable.
“Well let’s tell them right now!” the woman says. “Go on. Tell them.”
“Alright,” my teacher relents. Then he proceeds to name my classmates, one by one and I realize I am the source of his discomfort.
“Was anyone not called?” The woman asks. This is my chance to shine. Raising my hand high and waving it around I enthusiastically say,
“Me! I wasn’t called. I guess it’s just me not moving up.”
My teacher’s face was pained as he explained I was not moving up due to missing so many classes. I didn’t care. Of course I wasn’t moving up; I was quitting in two weeks anyway. But at least I could make everyone feel a little bit awkward before leaving, which is one of my few real talents.
Anyway, acting is officially in my past, put aside until a few years from now when I inevitably come back to it. Until then, does anyone have a new hobby for me to try? I’m always willing to try new things. At least for a few weeks anyhow.