We’re Not Just Acting

Ella Katz From The Odd Couple to Laramie Project, Advanced Acting productions have been put on at Latin since Mr. Baer was in high school (which was more than a few years ago). I have always been very interested in acting, so when the time came at the end of freshman year to discuss how I could pursue my acting passion in my future courses, I decided to go on the track to take Advanced Acting as a junior. The class does have a few prerequisites in addition to the fact that it is only a course option for upperclassmen. But, once I took Acting Company and Mr. Baer’s infamous Improv, I was all set. The night before the first day of school this year, I was laying in bed, thinking of what was ahead of me. I pondered how I was going into, arguably, the most challenging nine months of my life and definitely in my academic career thus far. I was petrified. I knew that ahead of me were the late night meltdowns, the essays, the test corrections, and the ACT, an unsettling realization. When I thought about Advanced Acting on my first semester schedule, I was relieved— I would have at least 50 minutes every day to do what I love and express myself through another character in another life. But boy oh boy, was I wrong. When Mr. Schneider told us what show we were doing this year, he began by telling us that we would be putting on a type of play that none of us had done before. It would follow the guidelines of Neo-Futurism, and we would be working with the creator himself, Gregory Allan. What is Neo-Futurism you ask? Well, the basics, according to the fine words of Greg Allan, are as follows: “Neo-Futurism aims to present actual life on stage by creating a world in the theater which has no pretense of illusion […] This means that when you perform, you are who you are, you are where you are, you are doing what you are doing, and the time is no other but now.” When Greg told us these guidelines on our first day of class, we were in shock. What the heck? Are you telling me that I am Ella and everything I say on stage has to be…true… and apply to my own life? Immediately, the entire cast jumped to conclusions. One student even walked out and never came back in, and our cast went from 14 to a whopping 13. While we were confused and scared, my classmates and I decided that we would go out of our comfort zones by staying enrolled in this class and learning how to express ourselves onstage— terrifying, I know. But, really, how hard could it be? Well, as the class progressed, it got harder day by day. Some days were fun, while others were sad and emotionally draining. My peers and I were facing the hard and undermined truths of our identities, flaws, and insecurities both on stage and in our homework assignments. Everything was so real, almost too real. Part of the reason that this process was so hard is because of the structure of our class periods. Play practice has always been a time where I get onstage, script in hand, and with the power of that script, I get to be someone else somewhere else. Rehearsal is a designated time for me to get away from my life and everything that comes with it. Not anymore. Of course, in these rehearsals, if you couldn’t already tell, my classmates and I had to face every good and bad aspect of our lives through our two minute plays. To make matters worse, it was all onstage, under the blaring lights, in front of each other. There were multiple times that the pieces that my peers wrote brought me to tears or made me laugh so hard that I cried. Junior Henry Block says, “This show is unlike any other show I have done before. Though the process has been stressful, the end product this week is going be great, so everyone should come out on Thursday and Friday.” Senior Eleanor Ruscetti reflects, “Working on this show has been very stressful at times, but all the tears and hard work have definitely paid off. The show is fun, exciting, original, and I’m so excited for everyone to come and see it!” This type of performance and the concept of Neo-Futurism was foreign not only to the cast, but also to our amazing teacher and director, Mr. Schneider. As I questioned him about why he would pick such a challenging show for Advanced Acting this year, he proceeded to explain, “I wanted to pick a piece that gave the students in the class an opportunity to find and use their voices. Students, especially juniors and seniors, have so much to say and very little opportunity to say it. Teaching this class has overall been a great process and an incredible learning experience that will stay with me forever.” I couldn’t agree more with the fact that all of us high schoolers have so much building up inside of us day to day. The only problem is that we rarely have time to express these feelings. This show definitely gives us an opportunity to do so. Deon Custard, a senior that has been very involved with Latin theatre since freshman year, vocalized that, “While the process was full of balloon husks, dead leaves, more dabbing than one could imagine, as well as the occasional tear, it has been rewarding from the fact that it has exposed the cast, many of us traditionalists, to an art form that we may not have otherwise pursued.”]]>