I’m a cartoonist, not an actor

February 23, 2012 | Comments: None Yet - Post a Comment

I’m a cartoonist, not an actor. I would rather fight a grizzly bear with a fork than act in a play. The oldest of my three younger brothers did the acting thing in high school, and I was very proud of his ability to stand up in front of an audience and not puke.

I was on the stage crew. You know, those anonymous people who scurry about on stage before a play begins, setting up the sets and tweaking the lights? That was me, the 3rd one from the left, wearing ninja black. I liked being on the stage crew. It was low pressure, and I got to be artistic, painting fake trees and fake stone walls. It was fun and laid back, and mostly involved me chatting with friends while we leisurely slapped paint on plywood. We were not the most ambitious stage crew.

Until … the Sears Drama Festival. The most prestigious competitive high school drama festival of  a small geographical area southeast of Toronto. My school even had arch-rivals, the Festival’s hosts: Burlington Central High School. How we hated and feared them, mostly because they were really really good, and won every year. Their actors were true stage actors, staring passionately out over the audience as their elaborately staged plays utilized dance and smoke machines to tell stories about dystopian future societies, political unrest in Argentina and gangland Chicago.  There was always at least one dramatic death scene, expertly acted. We had to take them out.

Everyone rallied. We chose a Canadian play that had won some sort of award (prestigious!), assigned parts to our most talented actors (my brother got the lead), and the stage crew and I began work on a multi-leveled abstract stage which would represent the tortured psyche of my brother’s character, a shell-shocked soldier. We knew the Festival judges would eat the play up.

Performance night came and I scurried around on stage, organizing the set. I purposefully didn’t look at the audience, but couldn’t resist sneaking a peek when we finished setting up. The house was packed with fellow teenage drama enthusiasts. It was going to be amazing.

The play went off without a hitch. Passion! Drama! Explosions! Dark pasts! And the set looked GREAT.

Burlington Central won. Again. As they had every year for the last six billion years, which is the exact number of years the Sears Drama Festival has been the most important festival in a small area southeast of Toronto. I liked being in the stage crew because it was laid back and fun, but I’d worked hard on the play and for a while had actually cared about winning. My state of mind could be described as “majorly bummed.”

Next year, my school won the Sears Drama Festival. Without me, as I’d graduated the previous spring, but I like to think they won it for me. (They didn’t.)

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