Thursday, April 20, 2006

A forte for comedy?

Someone in my acting class last night said the most unexpected thing. In front of the class, she said, and the rest of the class agreed: "You have a forte for comedy."

Let me put this in context.

This was the beginning of our fourth session of class. We'd each been handed a recipe for a food item. Mine was apple oatmeal muffins. Based on the recipe, we each had to go up and improvise a scene. Some people pretended to be teaching a cooking class, one pretended to be teaching an American culture class, one did a commercial and a few of us did television shows.

I went last, and I improvised a show called "Cooking Disasters with Haley: Where instructions are optional and ingredients are dictated by what's in the pantry". I went on to do things like substitute baking soda for baking powder, and use old eggs, questionable milk and rancid smelling oil. I forgot to preheat the oven and didn't have muffin tins, so used a loaf pan instead. When the "muffins" failed the tooth-pick test, I served them anyway -- with a spoon.

As I sat down, one of the women, Paula, said to the class: "I don't know, Haley. When you started this class, you said it was because you had anxiety. Well, I don't see that. You've come out of your shell, and you certainly have a forte for comedy."

Comedy? Really? Me?

When the rest of the class agreed, I smiled, gave a nervous laugh and explained that I was a quivering mass inside. (I was. I had a cold sweat going, my pulse was racing and I was thrilled to be sitting down again.)

Later on in the class, we did another improvisation exercise. This time we planned a skit together (there were six of us). We were to pretend to be a group of 7-year-olds on a field trip to the Art Institute. There, a docent would lead us on a tour, and an older patron would complain about our noise, etc.

Every once in a while, the teacher likes to shake up the improvisations by giving one of the actors secret instructions. She gave me instructions that I was to "vandalize" one of the paintings.

So, during the improv, I complained that art was boring, asked when we could eat lunch, wandered away from the group, tried to touch everything, figited when told to sit down, and when no one was paying attention, started to draw a flower on one of the impressionist paintings. I was trying to make it look "better". The skit ended when the alarms went off and we were escorted from the room.

Surprisingly, everyone told me that I'd successfully "transformed" myself into the character and that I made a very believable mischievous child.

So, I had two successes of the night that I never expected.

There's only one class left. I'm not sure that I'll pursue acting anymore, nor audition for anything, but I've enjoyed myself and certainly gotten a boost out of it.

And some stories to tell.

I have a forte for comedy? No one will ever believe it.

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