Through the Eyes of an Actress

“Again.” He shouts for the forth time. “Do it, again.” These words I hear numerous times throughout the rehearsal. I’m an actress, so I’m used to it.

I walk into my third rehearsal for the week, eyes tired and mind set on the light at the end of the tunnel. I drop my oversized bag filled with theatre essentials and I start to warm up. I sit on the dusty ground in my tight black jazz pants and tank top, stretching my legs against the cold white washed wall. My director shouts, “All actors on stage.” We all proceed like a herd of cattle to the stage, ready to endure a seven-hour rehearsal. Before we begin, the director’s stern voice thrashes us with notes regarding how we can improve our performance. One by one he singles out an actor. I was first, with thankfully only a few minor notes. Louder voice – got it. Act less natural and more farce style acting – got it. An actor yearns for praise by their director, however rarely given, but uplifting when received. With seven reviewers coming to opening night, one positive comment would ease my mind before we are officially critiqued. Reviewers. That thought goes through an actor’s mind as much as the sun shines in Darwin. Everyone wants his or her name published in a positive light on the Internet or in a magazine. You have to work for it, and that’s precisely what I was going to do.

Playing the main character isn’t easy. Centre stage, spotlight burning your skin, while fifteen blazing eyes look and judge your performance. The pressure is huge, and these are only rehearsals. As the music fades, I start. I can detect the director’s piercing eyes in the corner of my eye. I can see his hand move rapidly, as he writes on a little brown leather notepad he is carrying. He changes position on his chair, as if he was uncomfortable or what he saw he didn’t like. I could feel the sweat running down my forehead. I want to impress. My heart is beating faster and I could feel the blood pumping through my veins. My mind starts to reel with thoughts. “Laura… you can do this.”

It’s six o’clock on a Thursday night, it’s still light and the air is thick and warm. I approach the theatre as I drive my small blue car into a parking lot by the front entrance. I can feel the butterflies dancing in my stomach. It’s opening night, and the reviewers are coming. As I step out of my car, Annie, the makeup and hair artist greets me. She hurries me into the greenroom with an excited expression on her face. She sits me in front of the mirror. Curtin call is in an hour, and I am just one of the five actors Annie has to prepare. Annie pulls my hair into a tight ponytail. As she holds down the hairspray nozzle, practically using the whole can, I could see the little specs of hairspray float in the light radiating from the bulbs surrounding the mirror. I can feel my palms start to sweat and the nerves kick in. “This is it.”

“Five minute call,” the stage manager shouts. I’m already to go on stage and opening the show. Hair stiff, costume clean and makeup bright. I step on stage. The curtain rises, the lights go up and I can feel hundreds of eyes glaring at me. My heart starts to pound faster. This is it. I start to speak but due to the nerves, I speak a little faster than normal. I realise and slow it down. After the official nerves wear off, I start to enjoy the rest of my monologue. Playing a fifteen year old American tomboy is completely the opposite to who I am. That’s the brilliance of theatre… you can pretend to be someone you’re not. A movie star, a mind reader, a criminal, a doctor – anything. I end the monologue and receive a roar of laughter from the audience. Whoa, the funny one liner at the end worked! I smile backstage. I did it. I aced the opening scene, and now it goes up from here. After the show the cast and crew meets in the green room for a debrief. The director is delighted. He is smiling, laughing and shaking everyone’s hands as if he knew the critics thinking already… and he was right with his assumption.

The reviews came out a couple of days later, with all cast and crew egger to read. As I turn on my laptop, my heart is pumping faster and faster as the page loads. I go straight to where my name is, not bothering to read anything else in the review. ‘ Particular stand out,’ ‘Fantastic and fresh new talent’ – all marvellous and fanciful reviews. I smile, with a gleam of proudness in my heart.  I think back to the long and sometimes torturous rehearsals, the bad comments and the good, and I think it’s all worth it. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would receive such favourable and tremendous comments. However, as Audrey Helburn said, “Nothing is impossible, the world itself says ‘I’m possible.”

Words by Laura Antoniazzi

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