Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Identifying the weirdos: An examination of normalcy

Pardon the colon in the title. I'm a college student studying psychology. Sometimes I can't help myself.

Today I was meandering down to the theatre, getting my brain in gear for another (another) run through of the play I'm currently in. I was thinking about lines, pondering blocking, and generally getting into the spirit of the thing when I walked by the sports field. Running around were a lot of girls with nets on sticks, some of them wearing bizarre protective clothing, screaming/chattering away ("Keep moving!" "Over here!" and other things I couldn't make out) and throwing a small ball to each other. The whole purpose of the event seemed to be getting the small ball into a largish net at one end of the field. "Womanizer" was blasting out of the speakers.

Ok, ok, I know they were playing lacrosse. I recognise that it's a legitimate sport, and-- even more importantly-- that many people are quite involved and really enjoy it. I know it, but it still looks pretty strange to me.

You know what else looks strange? Baseball. The WHOLE GOAL is to use a stick of specially shaped wood to hit a small ball as far as possible, so that you can run in a circle only to end up back where you started. Basketball? You can't even pick up the ball and carry it. You have to bounce it constantly. Rugby? You can't even throw the ball forward. I'm not sure I see the point.

Regardless, however, of the fact that I cannot discern a real reason behind these sports, I do realise that they have great meaning for many people. They build community, friendships, and give people a common goal to strive for. Which is truly great. I love watching the kids I nanny for play sports... but that's about where my interest ends.

And so, logically, I concluded that these people were mighty peculiar. Nets on sticks? If you say so...

But then I started to think about theatre. Mere moments after I arrived, we began warming up. In sports, "warming up" is a series of stretches and small exercises (I think). In theatre, well, everything is a little different. Here are a number of things that would look very strange from an outside perspective:

- We walk around in circles, repeating "Articulatory agility is a desirable ability. Manipulating with dexterity the lips the teeth and the tip of the tongue." Each time we finish these sentences we turn, all together, and speed up.
- We dance around singing "Ooh, I feel so good like, I knew I would, ooh, I feel so good." We mean it too. And we sing it loudly.
- I spent a good portion of last semester (when I studied theatre in London) working on perfecting my meerkat. Each member of my acting class had to have an animal that had similar physical behaviours to their character. Hilary, my character, was distinctly meerkat-like. I got used to questions like, "Blythe, where is your tail?" Similarly, when being a giraffe in my movement class, I had the opportunity to ask my friend, Elyot, who was a giraffe for acting class, how to chew. It was a serious question. He demonstrated.
- I worked very very hard at being able to transition, with my scene partner, from being a giraffe into being a snail.
- I accept it as standard that one is periodically expected to wear corsets. I'm actually quite fond of them.
- I can quote, verbatim, a surprising amount of Shakespeare, but also can provide you with pieces of David Hare, Ben Jonson, Tennessee Williams, Moliere, George Bernard Shaw... and all of my theatre friends are similar.
- Our set designer left a note on the table today that said, "Floor is not sealed yet. Please be careful when dragging furniture or rolling on the floor." The bit about "rolling on the floor" was necessary.
- I really, truly, honestly struggled when I was given a Shakespearean monologue to perform that included a line with only six syllables. I spent ages wondering where the four missing syllables were, and had several very intense conversations with other actors about it.
- We are handed weapons and instructed to fight, but not hurt each other. We call it stage combat. (Yes, it is choreographed.)

Judge us. That's ok. We're in theatre, so we're a reasonably judgemental lot. But I'd just like to say, everybody else looks just as weird if you stop and think about it.


  1. The classical jock versus drama queen debate:-) I remember it well from my high school days. You are living my dream of taking it to college and beyond. Bravo to you!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving such sweet comments. I hope to see you back there soon:-)

  2. I look weird every minute of every worries.

  3. Great post!
    Stopping by from SITS to say hi!
    Have a great day!

  4. Great post! I love your retelling of sports, ha! Never thought of it that way. Yeah, it does look odd!
    I did both growing up, sports (soccer and gymnastics) and theater, so I guess I sorta relate to both sides!