My teacher has a deep voice. He rolls his plaid collared shirt to his sleeves ( I wonder if he knows this is fashion right now in Canada) and begins explaining the project we will undertake in our theatre class for the next three weeks. A class that lasts for 30 hours, beginning November 15 and ending December 9 with a spectacle or performance.
Our "script" is the works of Lewis Carroll. We start the first and second day with exercises. Not those "zip, zap zong" or 'lets fall into each others arms for trust' exercises that I'm used to, but more like rapid speed yelling of words. Unfortunately the words aren't provided and I feel like I'm the only one who isn't fluent in italian. It's not true, at all, over the next weeks I will learn there are at least 8 other foreigners, but the first day, I feel terrified and challenged and by the end of it, feel too exhausted. I'm thinking I hate theatre, I wish I could do this, should I drop the class? And then I realize, I haven't been challenged in a theatre class for years. So let's stick with it, my teacher is good looking enough to keep me hooked. Like a great pilot of an episode. Though he's frightening too, all directors are under stress.
We're assigned a number, then we go in order, after saying our numbers, we go onto other words. Words that describe Alice in Wonderland for us. What captures that looking glass, the make belief world of cheshire cats and fairy tales written by Charles Dodgson (Later and more well known as Lewis Carroll). "Specchio, Racconto, Alice" various easy words are taken and people start yelling phrases. I panic, I'm hardly understanding what we have to say, my teacher is watching, I'm panicking and whatever I say feels childish, foolish. Not my theatre A game.
Then we all are assigned pieces of the text. These are bits of the story our teacher has written. One page sheets featuring dialogue (where we play two characters ourselves) or a straight monologue. They follow the order of the Lewis Carroll books and take the wittiest dialogue and story parts, placing them together in what I can only call an abstract (because of my IB education.)
I somehow am one of the only 4 people stranded without a part. My teacher starts splitting up the longer pieces into twos and threes. I'm last and somehow this prompts my teacher to call me up to the front of the class ( 40 students in a semi circle on a stage) to read a text I have never seen before. In Italian.
I'm so quiet he tells me delicately, using these words ( in his sexy italian voice of course)
"That was very intimate, but perhaps the others would like to hear. There is a class"
So I start again, feeling sweaty and scared and wait, what's this? Nervous?
Reminds me when Jesse St James from Glee said "I remember when I used to get nervous"
But this feels wrong, this isn't the actress version of me. I'm outgoing, crazy, loud. I'm not loud here! People even think I'm shy!. But another language can seriously displace me. And as I'm sure I'm blushing all shades of red, I continue the Italian never before seen text in front of me. Cursing my Canadian accent.
I get a dialogue from the mad hatter and Alice. Since I've received a portion that was split in two, I'm now in a group with another girl. We allocate roles, indicated by who is wearing a hat at that moment. It's an argument, and then I'm Alice in her portion and I run off the stage, albeit not as dramatically as I would like. Our class winds around the stage like a snake. We make a phrase out of our text. Ours is: "RETE AMOROSA" then we have to show this with different objects.
RE is a king from a deck, TE is tea and AMO is a fish hook, ROSA a rose.
We bring these things to a table, arrange them in our order, waiting for #7 to finish ahead of us, ( we're 8 and 9) before I start our dialogue with the condescending
"Ma prendi un po' più tè!" literally, "But take a little more tea."
Problem is, Alice has none: and responds as such. "Posso predeme di più se ancora non ne ho avuto?" Can I take some more if I don't have any yet?
The dialogue continues, then we walk to the back of the stage (Upstage for you theatre folks) and set down our "rebus" (puzzle) again. We sit at the back, while the other 24 pieces of the Alice in Wonderland/Looking Glass are performed.
We had started out in the seats of the audience. Came in front of the tables, picked up our items, brought them to the tables ( there are three Downstage), performed our interactive pieace (one of the few featuring a shared piece and character distinctions) and walked back upstage, patient, non moving in the shadows.
And the last piece ends just how the first one began.
It was interactive, strange, un scripted. And at the end of the 30 hours, I only performed for 5 minutes. I am already missing that gorgeous teacher with a decent fashion sense. Missing theatre more than I knew I was able to! Planning out my future and ideas for auditioning when I return.
Now, I'm going to go practice monologues.
PS Memorizing lines is much harder in Italian.
Here are my lines, if you want to check them out.
Also, I wore the beret I got from Paris. Hardly a mad hat.