Tonight is our monthly blogapalooza, we all get an assignment and an hour to write about it. Here's tonight's assignment.
Write about a character or scene in a movie or book that affected you in some way.
I have so many choices, I think that books, plays and movies have affected me all of my life in many positive ways. But I think tonight I will write about Gladys, from the Thorton Wilder play, The Skin of our Teeth. This was my introduction to high school, to drama and to learning to act, not just pretend.
As a child I was not at all athletic. I liked to read, play with dolls, create paper dolls and live in my own fantasy world. My Mom signed me up for Creative Dramatic Lessons once a week through the Park District, she even convinced other moms to do the same and a car pool was born. We did two plays a year and I came alive in this class. I made first real friends, I saw the power of the written word and boy, the applause was pretty great also.
Based on this extensive dramatic training I landed a part in the 8th grade operetta. This was like I had gotten a Hollywood contract only better. And the funny thing is that I can't sing at all. I wanted so badly to be in the production and I decided to try out for the role of the School principal. I was practicing at home and remarked to my dad that I could not sing. He told me to say the words like Henry Higgins did in My Fair Lady. I did and it worked!
I could hardly wait for high school, I had all kinds of aspirations. I decided to run for student council and try out for the play. I worked hard on my campaign signs, buttons and speech. And I lost, big time. They announced the results right before school was over for the day. I ran into the bathroom and started crying. I was going to just go home when a friend encouraged me to go ahead and try out.
When I landed the part of Gladys from The Skin of our Teeth I was overcome with happiness. I was the only Freshman in the play with Seniors, SENIORS! And one of them, had been kicked out of seminary school. I could barely breathe in his presence and once at rehearsal, he put his hand on my back. ON MY BACK! I became sortof the mascot of the drama club, they all called me Gladys for the rest of the school year. I even gained a bit of fame by making my own costumes. "Hey, Gladys can sew." I sewed a few things for my new wild drama friends.
I was a bit bewildered by this part, this Gladys. At one point the director said to me, act like you've got that song playing in your head "There she goes just walking down the street..."
I had never heard of this song before nor how it meant I should walk. But I found out. I had a baby in Act Three and I had no idea how to hold a baby or how it would change my character. But I found out. I went to cast parties where they played kissing games. I had no idea what it was like to be kissed. But I found out!
Gladys taught me that I could learn, change and perform with the big boys, even bad boy Walter. She gave me a niche. I was involved in 3 plays a year for the rest of High School.
Gladys taught me that it was cool to sew, that most people could not. I even named my Longarm sewing machine Gladys as an homage to this play.
And finally Gladys taught me that being able to rise to the occasion and perform was important in life. I didn't go on to major in drama like I thought I might. I decided to become a teacher instead and gave five or six shows a day for 35 years. Bravo!
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