I was in tenth grade when I first did a play. It was for my School’s annual day. I can’t say it was my first experience with the stage. I was always active when it came to extra-curricular activities but never had I participated in a drama before. Why or how I got selected, I never could really understand. I was never afraid to ‘speak’ on stage but to ‘act’ in front of so many people- it was like my worst nightmare! Though I secretly loved acting and wished I could someday act in the Annual Day Hindi Play (it used to be the main event of the program, something like ‘The Rock vs. John Cena match’ of Wrestlemania 28).
When the announcements were made for that year’s auditions, something made me go for it. There was only one role for a girl that year. Originally, another girl, a senior, was selected for the role. But due to some reasons she had to drop out and so, the person in-charge, you can call him the director, Mr. Sharma asked me if I would like to fill in her place. I was beside myself with joy. But the real problem started as soon as the rehearsals began. See, the play was about this new invention a famous scientist had made, Satyakiran (Ray of truth), which can make anybody who’s kept in its effect, speak just the truth and nothing else. The scientist invites a group of people – a politician, a retired police officer, a social worker and a famous writer- to witness his invention. Now, all the other people in the play were good actors, ones who’d been doing this for quite sometime and had previous experience. So, I was the only newbie who could basically act only in front of the mirror!
The first few days passed by in introductions and Mr. Sharma explaining to us the script, our individual characters and what he expected from each of us in the play. We were all given with a copy of the script and some time to go through it and memorize the dialogues, get comfortable with our role, etc. That part, I had no issue doing. I was ready with the dialogues and everything all fine. But when the time came to actually act, I just used to ‘read out’ my part with a plain face devoid of any expressions and that too with great difficulty. Initially, Mr. Sharma spent a lot of time trying to improve my acting, he used to coax me to open up and stop holding myself back so much. He said, he knew I could act well (why he always had such faith in me, is beyond me) and all I needed was just a little push. But I refused to change, I just couldn’t bring that natural flow in myself. As soon as my turn would come, something in me would shrivel up and I used to get so rigid. All the other people (who were all my seniors as well) also tried helping me, but all in vain.
One day I couldn’t go to the rehearsals due to some reason. The next day I reached the spot a little early. No one but I and another guy called Mayank had come. He was playing the part of the Scientist’s assistant and was relatively new himself. We got talking and I asked him what all had happened in my absence. He told me that no one was happy with the way I was performing and that Mr. Sharma said he didn’t know what to do with me anymore. All along I had known this, initially I even feared I might be kicked out after a few days, but somehow hearing it all from him made something hurt inside me. Whether it was my self-esteem or whatever I have no idea. But that day as soon as the practice session started, everyone saw a new version of mine. Not only was my voice louder, my body language was in sync with the dialogues and the facial expressions were proper. I had finally opened up. Afterwards, everyone came up to me to tell me how good I was in the practice that day. As for Mr. Sharma, I could see it on his face that he had finally succeeded. I think my performance that day was even better than what I did on the actual event.
Since then, Dramatics has been my favourite and never have I ever been afraid of ‘acting’ in front of any audience!