Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We Were Students Once...and Young

Out of 7 productions I was a part of at my college theatre, I have video copies of three of them. I have been skimming through said videos for the first time in years.

It's funny how improvement and evolution of one's craft can take place to a degree that one is not aware of. One dedicates oneself to pursuing what they love as often as possible, motivated by a desire for excellence. Constant improvement is all but ensured. Yet it sometimes takes an objective look at one's self to fully appreciate how far one has come.

This is what happened as I was reviewing some of these early performances of mine.

Don't get me wrong. There is much I did in my first few shows that I am quite proud of even to this day. (As the videos reminded me.) However, as represented by these videos, many of the finer points of my performances were not as well defined back then as they are today. I of course assumed I had improved over the years. I have insisted on it. Yet it took the objective viewpoint of a camera that cannot lie, and the separation of many years to delineate my improvements in such a clear manner.

Many people avoid watching videos of themselves for this very reason. Embarassment sets in as they realize what they should have been doing during thus and so speech, but failed to do. And I admit there were plenty of winces to go along with the smiles I experienced when watching them. Still, I have found it to be more rewarding than I thought it might be before hand.

How have I improved since those days? I cannot list all the ways, but I will give some examples. My diction, for one. Watching some of the videos, it was clear why "slow down" was a common note I was given by directors early on. I can be understood, but am thankfully much better at it now.

I can also tell that my inner workings have deepened since the days those home movies were shot. True, my acting professor and director's always had nice things to say about my ability to express inward thought in an outward manner. Nonetheless it is clear that compared with nowadays, my performances did not always include a consistent emotional reaction ascending into the delivery of a line, and continuing after said line. I am much better with that now. Indeed I am told it is one of my strengths. An evolution.

I want to make it clear to readers that my college acting days were not without their good spots. In fact there are some positive aspects that existed during those sorts of productions that I know will never be replicated in my acting career, no matter where it may take me. Still, seeing a more primitive version of both myself, and the overall productions I chose to involved in at the time serves to all the more enrich the acting I am lucky enough to do on a regular basis today.

Here's hoping that years from now, when I view the stuff I did this year, I can say the same thing.

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