Acting Antics
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My ambition to become an actor began at age 10 when my mother took me to see Gone With the Wind.  Ironically, the very next day in school an assignment was given requiring us to write an essay about who we would be and why if we could be anyone at all other than ourselves.  Without a moment's hesitation I chose Olivia de Havilland, citing the reason that I would love to play wonderful people like Melanie Hamilton.


Of course, too often we don't follow up on the plans we make at age ten, even when we know they represent more than the proverbial passing fancy.  But when one proves very capable in academics, a chorus develops comprised of teachers, guidance counselors, etc. whose voices together raise in a chant of "become a doctor, lawyer, rocket scientist -- you know something worthwhile." In any case, it seemed nothing in the arts could possibly represent a respectable occupation.  And someone  graduating a year early with a class rank of #1 is the last person who should want to throw her life away on art.  After all, it's the duty of such people to make a difference in the world.




Well, at least that make a difference thing was something that we all agreed on.  And, finally, several years after finishing high school, I finally decided that the arts were indeed my way to make a difference after all.  As a result I enrolled in an acting class, and then another...and another...


                                                                                              Below (clockwise, from left):  Horatio -- John Armstrong,
                                                                                                                                                    Gertrude -- Mil,  Claudius -- Matthew Geist,  Ophelia -- Elaine Unger
                                                                                                                                                         Gravedigger -- Michael Traupman,  Hamlet -- Chris Caltagirone

Because the arts have always been interwoven as something of one entity to me, however, I never really thought about acting alone as the sum total of my career ambition.  As a result, my favorite experiences have always been those in which my various interests (acting/writing/photography/music) could somehow be combined, as they were in the production of a one-act play/prequel based on Hamlet (which was produced in conjunction with its selection as a finalist in a playwriting competition).  I met some terrific people on this project, including one actor I still consider among the finest I've ever known.   It was a blast!

(On a side note, this piece was later produced again as part of a farewell directorial performance by my first acting teacher.  This time I played Hamlet.)



 As my first thoughts of acting had centered around film, I was most anxious to give this medium a try.  Thanks to a tip I received in one of my acting classes about upcoming auditions for a feature  being shot in the Reading, PA area, I showed up for an open call and was astonished to land a speaking role my very first time out.  Entitled The Ballad of Susanna Cox, the film is an historical tale dealing with the injustice practiced upon an indentured servant in the early 1800's.  A fascinating piece and another wonderful experience.




More stage work followed, including an adaptation of three Greek Classics performed by an all-woman cast at Flushing's "Theatre in the Park."  One of my early acting teachers had recommended strongly that if we were ever given the opportunity to take part in Greek chorus work, be sure not to pass it up.  Good advice, to be sure, although I must confess I think it firmly established that learning (not to mention executing) dance routines will never be my strong point!

In another film performance I played a club member in a short called Now You Hazz Jazz.  Written by its director, the story is based on a rather unique premise, that of a modern-day version of Louis Armstrong and an  authentic Dixieland Jazz band.  Filmed in a Knights of Columbus lodge bar near the Jersey shore -- in the midst of its regular operations -- I must say this represents one of my most unique acting experiences.  And, since I must further confess that despite my intense passion for music, Jazz has never been  my thing, it also represents one of my most trying.  Again, however, it was an opportunity for which I remain thankful and another job at which I met some great people -- including a rock drummer with whom my husband and I remain in touch.


Ultimately, I've gone on to embrace writing as a far more "active" pursuit than acting, though I continue to tremendously appreciate the latter art, not to mention plays and films as complete works.  In fact, one of my proudest projects is a screenplay entitled, Taking the Fall (Bad Kitty Films screenplay competition quarter-finalist/Key West Indie Fest 2005 Screenplay Winner) for which I also wrote all the lyrics to the soundtrack. 




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