"So, when did you fall in love with hip-hop?" The words flowed effortlessly from Marcus's lips as though it was a question he had personally crafted. After quickly recognizing and acknowledging the reference, Ryan gave her most authentic answer. This question replayed in my head as I stepped foot into the theatre. This time, however, I heard it a little differently. "When did you fall in love with theatre?" This time it was posed to me.
I can remember taking my first theatre class at the age of nine. I can also remember pursuing that interest, further, during the four years of my high school career. I recall developing my first character and truly gleaning on the opportunity to step into someone outside of myself. I remember it being ok to act outside of my norm in the name of "acting." The four years invested taught me the importance of making the words your own, studying people, behaviors, actions that made individuals unique. I recognized and inhaled the art of people watching. I, then, translated that into the characters I was nurturing and growing inside of me ...all in the name of "acting."
Showtime! Lights, simple black walls, dozens of eyes glaring at you, at me. Sitting in the theatre where I was about to experience theatre in a way that had never been taught to me, forced me to reflect on my own experiences as an actor and contrast it with the workshop experience before me. Moving cameras were fixtures on the stage, just as any other prop. Directors and stage managers were visually as much apart of the ensemble as was the cast. Audience participation was pivotal. Surreal. Yes, that would be the best way to describe this experience. About seven different plays re-enacted by artists –not simply rappers or actors. No, they were entertainers who thoughtfully crafted and embodied characters who are typically portrayed within a cookie-cutter framework. Each entertainer who graced the stage forced you to forget about the previous scene because who had to quickly adjust and dive into an entirely new play within a matter of seconds. Costumes, artful oral illustrations and simple set design allowed for seamless transitions between plays.
I must admit, this experience was not at all what I expected. I presumed I’d be coming to observe something similar to the countless musicals I have viewed. This, however, was a complete experience. It certainly shifted my idea about the art of acting and intertwining art forms. It helped me to remember that art is a representation of interpretation and perspective. Someone had a vision to take the conventional and spin it into the unconventional making theatre more meaningful and comprehensible for those who could typically care less or for those who needed a fresh experience without even recognizing it.