Juliet’s eyes fluttered open. Her heart raced and pounded. Blurred colors and warped shapes swirled across her vision. She felt something rough on her face, but could tell nothing more. Darkness stretched across her view, her eyes squinting as she recognized the thatched texture of cloth upon them. She took a shaky breath. Her hands found the craggy edges of the crypt as she pulled her trembling body upwards. The coarse, white veil fell from her face, gliding down the curves of her nose and mouth to rest in her lap. Her vision focused like a camera lens readying for a snapshot. Her eyes searched, yearning for something familiar. As her gaze found his body, her beautiful features turned ugly. She fell unceremoniously to the ground, her hands clutching at his tranquil face. The wail of a hundred banshees sprang from her lips and turned her heart to ice.
The telltale story of the famous star-crossed lovers was yet again brought to life. This time by a group of U-32’s middle schoolers. We worked for weeks on end becoming the famous characters of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It took hours of line repetition and uncountable cross-examinations of our scripts, but we finally had a Juliet who was emotional, an honorable Romeo, a furious Tybalt, and a wise Sister Lawrence.
Finally the day of the play was upon us. We had a dress rehearsal in the morning, a run-through in the afternoon, and an evening performance. I forgot to breathe that day, the suspense was so great. During the run-through and in-school performance, a few of our leads balked and skipped whole paragraphs of their lines. Needless to say, I was stressed out.
Everyone, it seemed, arrived earlier than we were supposed to that night. Maybe it was coincidence, but I am willing to bet that it was the combination of anticipation, excitement, and nerves. The Language Arts room had transformed into a bustling world of sizzling curling irons, mascara, clouds of blush, last minute line cramming, and french braids. The air crackled with excitement. It was time.
Those couple weeks of my life will never be forgotten. The fun. The laughs. Even the stress. The play unit made me want to get up in the morning. I looked forward to becoming someone else alongside my peers. I had acted before, and I have been in numerous musicals, but this play was the first where I had a major role. And I loved it. Being Juliet’s jolly Nurse was so much fun, namely because her character was so much like me. Full of happiness and bursting with love. She was the joy in Juliet’s life. Johnny Depp said ”With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it's just not acting. It's lying.” You have to be someone else, but you have to be yourself too. Not everyone that plays Juliet does it the same way. They all add a little bit of their own personality to the character in order to make it their own, and I think that the people of Apex 8 did a great job doing just that.
Not only have I learned a magnitude of tips and helpful information about acting this year, but this unit has taught me how humans interact. It has taught me that if you want to get to know a person, you have to do a theater production with them. The people I thought I knew are made of so much more. They are so much more complex than I ever imagined. My classmates’ personalities are layered with so many different ribbons, in my mind’s eye, they are all detailed tapestries, some of them neat and intricate and others made of seemingly random patterns of yarn.
This memory is (as stated before) one of the best I have from middle school. This insightful experience is one that will forever impact how I portray other characters. All the acting tips and helpful pieces of information my teachers drilled into my skull will show in every theatrical endeavour I pursue in the future. Every rehearsal, I did things a little differently, making the character my own. And while I was adapting my character, I paid attention and learned. Move this way to catch the light. Make this expression during this scene. And every little improvement in my character made my talent in acting grow.