stage FRIGHT…and beyond ;)

At the end of kindergarten, I was supposed to go on stage in the cafeteria/auditorium with the rest of the kindergarten kids and perform for the whole elementary school. I cried that morning. My mom asked me why, and I told her I didn’t want to do it, and she didn’t make me. I stayed home, relieved.

Part of me wondered what I missed on that day, but I did not regret missing that stage performance. I still don’t.

When I was a little older, maybe in third grade, I performed for the rest of the school on that same stage. This time, I danced the hora with my class. I think I was wearing green corduroys. I was good at the hora, but I hated the fact that everyone was watching me as I circled around, facing away from the crowd so that they could see my backside but I couldn’t see them. Afterward, a neighbor girl who was a grade above me told me that her classmate said I looked fat. Or something like that. I thought a lot about the remark at the time, but the particulars have faded now.

I was in a talent show in sixth grade. I did a terrible job, and I knew it. Let’s not revisit that.

In between, I was probably on stage a handful of times with the whole class, playing a flutophone or singing holiday songs or whatever, and it was all good. I blended in, which was my goal.

In high school, I did make-up for the theater kids. I loved doing make-up—using thick creamy sticks of foundation, knowing where to apply the rouge, drawing lines to make teenagers look old. But I was never on stage.

I was a rather shy person, and I still am, sometimes. Everyone knew I was shy back then. Now, hardly anyone would guess it.

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I was actually just talking about shyness at a conference I attended. I didn’t have a go-to person with me, a person who knew me well, so in order to be at all sociable, I had to reach out. And people are generally friendly, so it all worked out well. I spent a lot of time laughing and a good bit of time learning, which both seem important at a conference.

But the things I’ve been doing with WinkyFace videos go way beyond reaching out to other scholars. I actually have no idea who will end up seeing some of our footage, though I know it’s likely that many viewers will be less friendly than my conference community.  And the things I’ve been doing have no room for shyness.

But, you know what? Acting crazy on camera has been fun.

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At this point, I have been in several WinkyFace vids as parodied versions of myself. And I’ve played fictional characters in three WinkyFace videos: Katniss, Dracula, and Ophelia. It’s been pretty goofy.

After editing one of the parody vids, Lindsey said, “I think we should act even more over the top in future shoots.” Okay! Good times!

For the fictional characters: I love dressing up in costumes and doing my make-up with the character’s style in mind. I love thinking about how the characters might talk and behave if they were to come to life. I love saying outrageous, ridiculous, and even slightly offensive things…with none of it being from me at all.

The only thing I have been paranoid about is my age, especially when portraying teen girls. I’m familiar with the expectation that women of a certain age should, well, act that certain age. And it’s not easy to change that expectation, so, instead, we made sure Katniss and Ophelia had a chance to comment on their aged appearance. (I won’t give away their rationales for looking a bit older, but I think they’re pretty good!)

Yup, I’m 45. And I’m acting 15. But with way less shyness than when I was actually 15!

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About lauriemcmillan

I teach writing and literature classes at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY.

Posted on March 27, 2014, in background. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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