Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sing It Loud

You guys wanna hear a story?

So this one time, in elementary school, I got us out of class early because I was amazing.

See, my sixth grade math teacher wouldn't let us leave until someone sang something. Anything. I'm a little teapot. anything. No one wanted to sing, of course.

Finally, I volunteered.
I only knew a couple lines from this song that I heard on the radio once. I didn't really know it, but I went for it.

"It's tearin' up my heart when I'm with you
but when we are apart, I feel it too
and no matter what I do, I feel the pain
with or without you"

Stunned Silence.

Apparently as an eleven year old, I had quite the set of pipes. I mean, I did win the sixth grade choral award... We got out of class early, and for the first time, some people were actually nice to me. I was essentially Rachel Berry from Glee.

When I moved up to middle school, my choral teacher, Ms. Barletta, was a heinous bitch diva heinous bitch. She was constantly mean to me, put me in the back row (I was Four-foot-Two, if I was to be seen, I had to be upfront,) and made me sing Baritone when I was clearly high-tenor/mid-alto/low-soprano (and yes she let a couple other boys sing with the sopranos.)
She also thought I was just refusing to learn the choreography, when in reality, I just couldn't sing and dance at the same... scratch that, I just plain couldn't dance. I couldn't even grapevine, let along spin, clap, and sing at the same time. She dressed us in White Pants and neon shirts (we looked like highlighters.) She made fun of me, in class, because I just could not learn how to read music.

...yes, I cried.

I lasted two years under her reign, then I had to quit and move over to theatre. At least in theatre I could still perform. The drive to sing had been completely killed in me - by the end of eighth grade, I was lip syncing our performances. I could still act though, right?

9th grade was good to me. I loved my acting class, and did very well. It was taught by an English professor who was also my homeroom teacher, and I ate that shit up. I wasn't awesome at all the improv we had to do, and I mostly played comedy, but I had fun. I had so much fun, in fact, that I got pulled to help act a scene from the play in my french class. Good times.

When I got to high school in 10th grade, I tried chorus again - however, by this time my balls dropped and I'd had the desire to sing beaten down. I wanted to sing Bass so that I could sing quietly, but when I sing loud, I immediately vocally switch to tenor, so I was always stuck in tenor when I just wanted to be invisible.
I also took theatre... and guess what other performance-based passion was beaten out of me? I was in a play called "The Girl who was Asked to Turn Blue," and as you can imagine, it was a terrible play. Absolutely horrendous. It was about racism, I guess. Maybe it was about conformity. I don't know, I was ensemble. But see, being ensemble was hardly easy. We had to mirror someone on the opposite side of the stage as us. Problem? Inbetween myself and that other person were fifteen other people, blocks, poles statues, etc. When I talked to the director about the problems we were having and what solutions we could use, she said "...and that's why I'm the senior director, and you're just a lousy sophomore actor."

...yes, I cried.

I was only in one other play, Thumbelina. I was Jitterbug #7. I had one line - "Thumbelina's gone..."

I never acted again.

I did, however, get involved with stage crew. I was constantly told I was stupid, not good enough, and useless, but I didn't give up for two years. I kept it up until the end of my junior year... when someone spread a rumor that I had tried to go behind everyone's back and make decisions as to who on stage crew was going to work what - essentially trying to run something that was more out of my league than the presidency. When I tried to refute the claim, I was told I was a liar, and that it "sounded like something [I] would do." No one on crew believed me, and the guy I was unrequitedly in love with wouldn't talk to me.

...yes, I cried.

I later found out that it was our crew director himself that made up the rumor.

I decided to quit chorus, theatre, and crew forever. I couldn't keep doing this to myself.

When I hit college, I refused to even entertain the thought of doing theatre, though they desperately needed guys. I did some light acting, for things like skits in class or as part of PEERS, the peer education group. But by my junior year, I needed an art course to graduate and considering I fuck up stick figures, tangible art classes were out of the question. So I took Fundamentals of Acting with Jim Bergwall.

Jim Bergwall is a douche. He spent the whole first class telling us how he expected us to be just terrible at this because we were "non-majors", and just hopes to get through the semester with us. This is, by the way, after we've all talked about our past theatre experiences.

But I learned at this point that crying got me nowhere. Someone, somewhere once said "Success is the best revenge."
When he told me that I was a bad actor because I only played comedic, I mentally said "yeah? well fuck you."

We did an activity where we had to walk across the floor like it was something that was not a floor. I pretended it was a balance beam. I did a cartwheel. I fell. I hurt my back, severely.
...of course, I knew exactly what I was doing. I didn't hurt my back at all. Everyone clapped... but I kept it going. I heard whispered panic. People thought I'd actually hurt myself. Just as someone came over to check on me, I stood up and bowed. Round of applause #2.

Later, my monologue (p.s., we had to beg him to let us do monologues) was the scene from American Psycho where Christian Bale's character calls his lawyer to confess all the people he's killed and how he's killed them.

I'm pretty sure a couple people shit themselves. Suck on that, Jim Bergwall. Aye-ya-ya-ya-aye!!!

My senior year, I needed another easy four credits, so I took a Role Play and Improv class with Jared Reed. Jared was your average pretentious theatre dick. He was going on about how Whose Line is it Anyway... wasn't "artistically filling"

I hated Jared Reed that first day... until he said "I expect great things from you guys. You'll have fun, and even if you're not the best actor, that's okay - we're going to make sure you enjoy yourself anyway."

...could this be true? Could this be the first performance teacher I've had that's treated us like human beings since my elementary school music teacher, Mrs. Swavely, who was okay with my inability to read music but loved and nurtured my singing? Could this be true?

It was. Jared Reed spent the semester giving us actual notes... helping us improve in every way possible. He loved when I played comedic, and was stunned at my serious performances. He even helped the people in my class that were struggling the most succeed and do well. For some of us he helped us break our comfort zones; for others, he helped them find a comfort zone.

I had two particularly strong moments in that class. One was an improv where we split off into six groups, and each group had to base their scene around mine with Habibbah. Whatever we said was truth, and these other people who were sometimes tied into us were also definite. Through them, I learned that my wife, Habibbah, was cheating on me. I found a way for my character to figure it out, and when I did, my character got upset. Really upset. Kicked a trash can. Threatened my scene partner. Cried. Scared the fuck out of everyone else.

My other big moment was my monologue. We had to do a scene wherein we played three or more characters. What better way to do that, I thought, than have Dissociate Identity Disorder (Multiple Personalities.)
I scared the fuck out of people.
It was awesome.

On the last day of class, my new friends and I walked out the door of Kuch 204/206 one final time, and on the way out, I said to him "...thanks for being the first theatre teacher that's ever treated me like a real person"

...yes, I cried.

What have I learned? Well, I'm probably never going to sing or act in public again. Over the years, my voice has really fluctuated. It got better again in late high school when a friend of mine and I would sing in her car all the time, but it then turned to crap again when I got to college... but then Glee started and my voice has gotten a bit better... only a bit though.... not enough to ever do anything with it. I can still act... sometimes... but generally, my characters are just a variation of me, with slightly different motives, or an accent. I could work on it, but I won't ever act in any capacity again... I just couldn't do it.

But thank you, to all the people who said I couldn't... because without you, realizing I could would have never felt so good.

"People may say I can't sing... but no one can ever say I didn't sing" - Florence Foster Jenkins

Stay tuned for my next blog on bullying. I'm gonna take it pretty heavy, stay tuned. I promise after the bullying blog I'll get right back to funny/humorous. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, My Dream Guy, My Make-Believe Wedding, My Big Apathetic Protest, Tales from the Brit, Hangovers, iPod Walk, and The Strangest Things About Me!! Let me know which ideas you like best, and make sure to follow me on twitter!

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