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confidence
perfect pitch
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Confidence Part Two
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Confidence Part Two

Recently I wrote about my first time on the Stage---the Theatre.

I remember writing that it was the first of many but as I looked back through all of my stories, I realized that I have never written much about my acting career. Actually nothing.

Why I asked myself? Because it would be boring.

Who wants to know about failing miserably in “Trojan Women” or closing to three and four curtain calls in “Stay Where You Are” as a professional actor? Who cares if I went to the State High School finals in “The Proposal?” And directed “Lion in Winter”…so what.

The story was about confidence and I told it. But what I left out was questioning confidence………

I had the staring role in the “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde.

I’d been studying (and paying for) acting classes for years. Paid to learn how speak with out a Southern Accent. Paid to learn that I could not sing---not a note….actually that is not true---my teacher told me I had perfect pitch, I could hit any note she wanted, but that I was simply incapable of putting two notes together. So as rehearsals began what did I have to worry about? Besides my co-star was an experienced professional actor. So what did we have to worry about?

Have you ever seen or read “The Importance of Being Earnest?” Can you say boring? No that’s not fair---can you say very boring? So my partner and I decided to “ham it up” just a little---at least try to make it funny.

That’s when Terrell, the director said “NO!” This was an English Farce and we were going to play and present it as such. He went on to explain that we were to get to know our characters and play it by the book. No smuck. No slapstick. No exaggeration. Just dry, boring and tedious English comedy in the old style.

Can you say boring?

But Terrell was the director so Steve and I delved into our characters. We rehearsed for weeks the dullest permutation of a play you would have ever seen.

But we did get into the heads of our characters.

Questioning confidence? I had been laughed at before---but remember that there is a difference in an audience laughing and being laughed at! And boy were we going to be laughed at. Confidence? I felt like I was back in junior high giving the Beta Club speech.

But we did get into the heads of our characters. We knew them like the back of our hands.

So confidence? Out of the question, unless you wish to consider absolute confidence in dismal failure and ridicule confidence.

It was dress rehearsal. Steve and I knew we were on the verge of the biggest failure to ever come out of Alliance Theater in Atlanta. Maybe the biggest failure ever. Confidence, you might say, was at an all time low. What is lower than no confidence? That is when Terrell came up to the two of us. He said that this was the most boring performance that he had ever directed (DUUUUHHH).

Then He explained!

He knew that we could do the slapstick. He knew that we could ham it up. He knew we could do the stick. What he wanted was for us to base all of those talents (tricks) on really knowing the characters. So he gave his final directions---ham it up---add the stick---and go for broke!!

We closed to multiple curtain calls every night of the run. Every single one. Not because of the “tricks” but because we were inside the heads of our characters. The tricks just made it better. I can remember older actors who had played the role of Earnest before, after seeing the performance, telling me that they had never seen it played better. And I can remember Terrell Smiling.

That sly dog.

So you see confidence is something that really does grow. And even when you think you have lost it---when you know you have failed---when you wonder if you can even go on…..remember “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

The last line in the play is delivered by Earnest and goes “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of Being Earnest.” It can equally be said “I’ve now realized for the first time in my life the vital Importance of being Confident.”

Pray for me I’ll pray for you.

Jim

Did you know that the first character I played at our Church, Christ the King in Cumming Georgia, was a jack ass……..do you think that was type casting??


Street Talk

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