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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 24 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 04
Here comes a new drama queen
Arts & Entertainment
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Here comes a new drama queen

by Sugie - SGN Contributing Writer

What a chance for me to pursue my dream, albeit late in life! I am a fifty-niner, once a forty-niner; now all I have to do is 'act' on it! There is really no punch line there; I signed up for beginning acting techniques at North Seattle Community College. Yes, I already have myself a Bachelor of English, so why do I want more? Actually, I took a class in playwriting at my alma mater, Seattle University, and got to have one of my plays dramatized. I found it so fascinating being able to mold the actors to my play that the teacher asked me if I was interested in becoming a director! I think I told her 'no' at the time! Anyway, all during high school, I would get to the final audition and then someone more seasoned as an actor, would get the part. I did make the chorus of Hello Dolly and had a real blast dancing and supporting the lead, the girl who played, Dolly Levy. I heard she ended up going to Julliard, one of the more famous schools of the arts in New York City.

Bellevue Community College sees a new dramatist
There I was at Bellevue Community College, 48 years old, in a sea of 18-plus year olds! I was in Drama 101, and my first play assignment involved me being in a twosome with a young Oriental boy, who fed me my lines because I did not remember them, I was so scared performing in front of people! Needless to say, I got a low grade on my performance and I vowed to do better the next play around.

We learned dramatic technique in that class; everything from showing a certain thing your character does over and over; and being informed that the space in front of you was known as a wall. We learned to block out the audience, while we concentrated on the wall. Sometimes, the teacher would have each student look at certain landmarks on the wall, having two students at a time doing this. We would have to synchronize where we both looked to assure the teacher and ourselves that we had our 'blocking' correct. And for those who wonder what blocking is in dramatic terms, it is how all the stage movements are choreographed to ensure that much more dramatic effect.

I had my best performance then as the mother of the blind boy in Butterflies are Free. To ensure that I would not forget a line, the teacher had the boy who played the blind boy say, 'What is it that you want, Mother?' I remembered all my lines during that play and got a respectable grade for my performance! After my performance, the teacher told me that she was so proud of me - how I remembered all my lines! I can tell you this, that is when the dramatic technique is good - the players are that much more able to block out the audience. I then create a space on the stage that is all my own, that no one can knock down.

The same teacher also told us that a good actor creates a 'suspension of disbelief.' This means that the actor's portrayal of the character is so convincing that the audience gets 'sucked' into the play. This is what defines a so-so actor from a great actor, like one of my acting heroes, Dustin Hoffman. What makes Dustin Hoffman a great actor? He portrays his characters so believably, that one could swear he was autistic like Raymond, the autistic savant in Rain Man.

Susan in present tense
Now that I've sketched a 'Portrait of the Artist as a Young Lady,' I'll let you all in on a secret as to why I'm taking drama lessons at age 59! As Gilbert and Sullivan would put it in one of their operettas, 'There is beauty in the bellow of the blast!' Thank you all for listening to me. Now I must go block my first drama assignment in my new drama class! We have to prepare a monologue about two minutes in our life, and I must go grab my Monkees lunch box, because it is my only prop, other than my Beatles coffee cup!

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Here comes a new drama queen
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