“To do anything in this world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in, and scramble through as well as we can.” Sydney Smith, English essayist, 1771-1845
So once again, I arrived early for my new gig, and once again, it was because I was killer nervous. Last time it was for volunteer duty at the GCTC, but this time was even scarier…SCHOOL. Yes, it had finally arrived…the first class in my entry level acting course at the Ottawa School of Speech and Drama. Now, the last bit of ‘acting’ I did was a component in an Animation course I took at Algonquin College, and that was well over a decade ago (also the last time I had formal schooling of ANY kind), so I was sweating it a little bit. Wisely had a pot of Rooibos tea at the nearby Bridgehead (coffee would have done my tummy no favours this day) as I counted down the minutes til classtime. Finally headed on over to the OSSD builing on Picton…at first i was annoyed they had moved way out to this part of town, as they USED to be positioned, like, two blocks from my place of work. Convenient, yes? But then, I realized that, even with all my years in this town, I’ve never really explored the westboro area this far down before. So, discovering a new part of Ottawa (to me) was actually pretty cool. Even saw that ‘Wall Space’ gallery, which was cool cause they just retwatted one of my blogposts on Twiter. Neato!
Got inside, milled about awkwardly with a bunch of other students in there for a variety of courses…discovered Fringe Ninja Pat Gauthier is here, teaching the level 2 class (will I see you next year, Pat? Time will tell!). At last, my gang was called in to the Nathalie Stern Studio for our initiation (after a frantic pilfering of chairs from other classrooms)…there were 14 of us, along with our instructor for the first class, Mary. And then, well…I was back in school at long last. But not no regular school (thank Christ).
I can merrily say I had a blast at my first day. We played a couple of quick games that I’m sure the theatre-folk reading this will recognize (ZipZapZop, anyone?). We were introduced to ‘square breathing’, and practiced tongue twisters for a spell. Unique New York, Unique New York…
We were each asked to come up with a new name for ourselves that day, some fantastickal alter-ego befitting a course dedicated to make-believe. To be honest, I remember most of my classmates so far more from their pseudonyms than their real names. And I look forward to getting to know them all better…Antsy Annie, Proud Polly, Rabbi Jew (no, really), Brilliant Barbara, Arrogant Augustine, Cute Clarissa, Daring Dirk, Terrified Tex, Surprised Sass, the Masterful Mister Danger, Awesome Ace, Wily Wyrmling, one I’m drawing a blank on (Sorry!), and of course, yours truly…Lovely Lando.
The highlight of the class was a game in which we split into teams, pick a photo at random, and then had to imagine a play that picture was the show poster for, and describe it to our teammates. In that spirit, I invite you all to come out and see my new play THE BREAKFAST TABLE, the bittersweet story of an Eastern Ontario farmer trying to pass his family business on to one of his three sons, each slowly being seduced away from his traditional way of life by the big city lights (one of then becomes a rocket scientist over the internet!). A little hackneyed, sure, but let’s see YOU do better with a picture of a loaf of bread as your inspiration. Afterwards, teacher singled ME out and said I was using my whole body to sell the story, and…and goddammit, I made it through my first class, and I didn’t suck! I was actually kinda OK! And I’m looking forward to the next class so much I wish it were tonite. Man.
I’ll finish this report off with a trip back to the start of the class. We all picked a quote at random (mine was the one beginning this post), and were told to introduce ourselves, working the quote into our reasons for being here. For me, that was no brainer. Since, as I told the class, I have a tendency towards solitude, and hiding away from the world. But then there’s this passion for theatre that’s just been building, and building…
So, this is me. Taking that leap, and crawling through the cold and the danger. See you next class,