Why Acting Matters

I am part of the cast of “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles,” a play being produced by StageWest Theatre Company in Des Moines, Iowa. Opening night is February 18, 2011.

It’s been a long time since I’ve acted in a play. The last time was when I was a junior at Rice University in spring of 2000, and I was in a Rice Players production of “A Man For All Seasons.”

I’ve been thinking off and on about trying out for another play during the past few years, but I never got around to it. Finally last November I decided to audition for “Beebo Brinker Chronicles,” and I got a part!

I was thinking about some of the things I missed about acting, and why acting is important.

  • Live Connection with the Audience: I love live theatre because it’s a high-wire act – there’s an element of risk and uncertainty, each show is its own singular event that will never be exactly duplicated, each line reading is a chance to make people laugh, make them think, make them feel surprise, sadness, or shock. Theatre is a communal experience. The audience is taken along for a shared voyage of discovery. The audience co-creates the experience along with the performers – it’s a subtle interplay of energies. There’s nothing quite like it.
  • Exploring the Human Experience: Theatre is one of the world’s oldest art forms, dating back to 2,500 B.C.E. As a History major, I love how theatre can help us to revive the past, make it real, honor the lives of the ones who have gone before. Acting helps us to imagine other lives and other ways of being. What lessons would people from those earlier years want to impart to us? What are the best aspects of each era of human existence that we have in common?
  • Collaboration: As a freelancer, I spend a lot of time working alone – so it’s good for me to be part of a team of actors, working on a common creative endeavor. I learn a lot from my fellow actors, watching them, listening to them, interacting onstage and offstage. Every play is a unique coming-together of a diverse group of talent. We spend many hours together, we explore some intense emotions together, sometimes we yell, cry or kiss (depending on the script).
  • Self-discovery: Every character I’ve played over the years has taught me a little something about myself. It’s fun to see how others see me when I’m portraying a character. Every role, every line, has complexity and nuance and offers me a chance to imprint something essential of myself.
  • Acclaim: I love acting because, frankly, it feeds my ego. There is such a rush that comes from performing for an audience. I love the sound of a room full of people laughing, the air of expectation on opening night, the roar of the crowd at the curtain call. Where else in life do you get to feel this way?

Tickets are on sale now for “The Beebo Brinker Chronicles” at the Des Moines Civic Center’s Stoner Theater!

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