Every year for the past three years, I’ve participated in a self made rite of theatrical passage. Every October, I apply the day NYDS, The National Youth Drama School, opens. I pay my one-hundred dollar downpayment and select the classes I want to attend.
This year I applied for the class I’ve always been too scared to apply for, advanced acting. There’s nothing special about the class itself, apart from the perceptions that follow it around the school. If you are in the Advanced Acting class, you’re…ya know…’advanced’, a serious actor.
I never applied for that class because I’ve been in denial about my lust for performing since before I could remember. I’ve always wanted to act.
When I was little, I used to imagine that Peter Jackson, the only director I knew the name of, would turn up on my doorstep and say that he needed a ten year old female lead, preferably with brown hair, brown eyes and a pension for crying on demand. A skill I legitimately practiced late at night, while I was supposed to be going off to sleep.
The tutor of my class was compassionate and compelling. She could hold the attention of the class like a magician, using her hands to help tell her story like a conductor in front of an audience.
The week was a whirlwind of life lessons, these are the most important:
STOP ASKING FOR YOUR YES
Every chance I got, I would pitch my secret plan. Just the five second summary in hasty bullet-points. Probing for how they reacted until the young man I was interrogating said, 'All you want me to say is yes’, and he was right.
Every request for advice was really me just desperately trying to collect validation. What I realised was, if I’m asking, because it’s my life, I get to give myself my own yes. If I’m obsessed with something, then yes I should follow my intuition and trust that I’ll be okay.
EMBRACE GLORIOUS FAILURE
In clown you learn to come onto the stage empty. You have to come out in front of an audience and be a mistake riddled idiot, and you have to learn to love that. You have to be ‘in the shit’ and enjoy the process of trying to dig yourself out of it. You have to fail, get laughed at, get angry, get sad, and just keep trying with earnest passion.
Relax into failure, and enjoy your mistakes, because they are what makes your story interesting.
In all, an overwhelming, very hard, but very satisfying week.
By the end of it I valued my freedom and independence again and I was able to remind myself of the bigger picture. But I also realised how much I appreciate my best friend for all that he is and all that he does for me. I’m very spoiled by the people in my life. And eternally grateful to the fact they have been saying yes since before I started asking and not holding my mistakes against me ever.