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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Why Alyce Does It

Why I Do It. (Theatre I Mean.)

I never wanted to be famous or have the paparazzi follow me. I never wanted to be the new face of Revlon or have my hand prints in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. I just knew I wanted to act, but why?

The reasons for it changed throughout the course of my young life. First, it was because I wanted to express myself and seek the attention that I thought I rightfully deserved as a child. Then, it was to become someone else and escape the dreaded problems that were my teen years. Finally, when I attended college as an acting major, I began to realize that there was more to it than that. At this moment in my life, I have come to believe there are two solid reasons that I am drawn to work in the theatre.

*Reason 1: The Cathartic Experience that I have while acting has truly guided me through the struggles of my life.

When was in college, I was cast in a production of Samuel Beckett one acts. My one act was called “Rockaby”, which consisted of an old woman who spent 20 minutes in a rocking chair, just rocking back and forth, listening to a recording of her own voice, before she finally dies. At the beginning of the rehearsal process, I struggled to find those emotions and feelings that a person would go through before the end of their life. But suddenly, I received a phone call from my mother telling me that my father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Because of my father’s already poor health, we feared that he may not make it through the surgeries and chemo. I couldn’t comprehend losing my father, and due to college and rehearsals for my show, I wouldn’t be able to attend any of his procedures. The guilt, fear, and utter sadness was very overwhelming and the only thing I had to get me through that very difficult time was dying in a chair every night. Without that show, I never would have been able to get through not being able to be there for my father. That role was meant for me at that moment in time. The universe gave me the perfect role to deal with my father’s illness, but also, gave me those struggles to be able to portray one of the most truthful characters I have ever played. I know this because my father surprised me on closing night and sobbed like a child watching his daughter go through the same fears and uncertainties that he faced in the hospital only hours before. Now, my father is cancer free and any time we discuss the play he always says, “How did you possibly know the feelings and thoughts that I had during treatment? But you did because I saw it in that play.”

*Reason 2: Theatre creates “oneness” that sparks an awareness of the world outside of ourselves.

Besides being an acting major, I was a Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution minor. I began a chapter of STAND: A Student Anti-Genocide Coalition at BSU, and I knew that I wanted to tie those 2 passions together in some way. So senior year, I produced/directed a play called In Darfur. The play focused on the genocide in the Sudan and all my actors struggled to relate to humans suffering through such an unbelievable crisis. However, by the time the production was ready to open, the actors had all found what they needed to portray their characters truthfully and with great honesty. The key for them was discovering more than their own self-worth, but the awareness of only their essence and connecting that essence with others. Stepping outside ourselves, with only our essence makes all characters and stories tangible.

Upon writing this blog, I found this video of Thandie Newton discussing this idea of “oneness”, much more clearly and eloquently than I. I believe her insight is inspiring to all people, not just performers. And these ideas of catharsis and oneness are the reasons I need to be routed in theatre. They are the reasons that I battle through the grueling audition processes and rejections. Because if I don’t, I fear that I will only get lost in myself and miss the connection to the people and world around me.

This post was written by Alyce Householter. See Alyce as June in our upcoming Dearly Beloved running at Unity Somerville, September 9, 10, 16, and 17. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com

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