Androboros: Diving Into History
In the fall of 2014, I began my “no more traditional acting classes” journey. I wish I remembered why I made this choice, but I can only guess. “Was I tired of crying each week?” “Was I happy that I finally kind of knew how to act and wanted to try for new horizons?” “Did I feel like I needed to be a more well-rounded performer?” “Did I feel completely useless as a person and wanted to have something else to offer other than I may know how to learn lines a little?” All of the above?
Your guess is as good as mine. But, in the fall of 2014, I took a stage violence workshop. It was three days long, and I cried a lot there too, but I believed it was a revelatory class in that: I had my mind opened to the idea of sitting with anxiety, a revelation of how anxiety can manifest itself, and a realization that a lot of our beliefs about ourselves are actually outdated and no longer serve us even though we cling to them without being aware. Since that class, I’ve avoided scene study classes by taking improv classes, clown classes, character, and most recently a physical theatre and devising intensive. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to take a scene study class now because I kind of miss it, but a thought came to mind recently: it would be nice to do a play where I am asked to put all that physical training to use (I really liked clown in college). And that’s where Androboros comes in!
I was excited to get to be a part of Androboros, but also terrified because I was going to be asked to be bigger than myself. The person I present as in real life is unmoved, unaffected, part of the wall, quiet yet incredibly hilarious. For this play, Ralph Lewis (the director) would not let me maintain my invisibility cloak. Androboros is a play where you have to be at your muchness. Upon meeting me, one would not know that I had much muchness, but when motivated by the right people I can be a bit much. Androboros has required me to be over the top, silly, to fall, and to trust! Find me in a movement class in 2012 and you’d find someone who wouldn’t be able to be led blindfolded because what if you lead me into a wall? Find me in Androboros in 2017, I’m helping flip a guy upside down, I’m falling back into the arms of my castmates, I play a part of two dance numbers and I have to sing a song! Talk about going out my comfort zone.
The interesting part about being a part of this play is that so much of our production is about taking care of one another. Literally, people’s lives depend on us being present and being careful.
It’s about surrendering and putting all of our faith in our castmates having our best interest at heart. There’s a gentleness to the chaos.
I just want to talk about the singing and dancing for a minute. Everyone who knows me knows that I hate to dance. And that I will always say, “I can’t dance.” The High School Musical song, “I Don’t Dance” is my anthem. The last play I did there was a line where I had to say, “I can’t dance” and that was perhaps my most genuine acting. So, naturally this play has choreography and I am involved in two of those numbers. In college, I took dance: modern 1 and 2, ballet 1, jazz, contemporary (twice), and Samba. Why? Also, while in NYC I was part of a two-week workshop two years in a row where I had to dance and nothing brings me greater distress (except singing). But, that mentality is largely psychological. As a kid, I was so annoying, now that I look back at it. I would spend hours a day, just singing along to entire albums. I gave my family a free show every day. Here I am as part of Androboros and I’m like, “What is singing? And is dancing also as confusing as life?” I cower. I cower. But, here I am part of a village of people to lean on. Choreographers, castmates who are more confident and will guide, musicians who try to adjust to our bad singing, so on and so forth. This may be the biggest play I’ve been a part of and I can only assume Broadway is next.
But, I cannot forget one of the most important things about this play! It’s considered America’s first play and was written over 300 years ago and yet is so incredibly relevant.
I know post-election I became quite numb to the heaviness of the world and checked out. I retweet angry tweets every day, but I have completely shut down when it comes to taking part in anything that could possibly effect change: calling senators, voting in smaller elections, learning about local political figures, protesting, any of that. I think I’ve lost my belief that any of this will change things and feel that we’re depending on others to do the right thing, but seeing that it’s going to be on us, the citizens, to do the right thing. The weight of, “But, will it really do anything?” holds me back still. But, that’s me as a person: go big or do nothing which hinders forward movement. Anyway, I think what Androboros can teach us is that if we want to predict the future we have to look into the past. The answers to our questions are in poems, in songs, in films, and plays. We can no longer be surprised when history repeats itself.
We have the information we need to know what it looks like before things get bad, what rhetoric leads to things getting worse, what looking bad looks like!
History, as I once heard comedian Romany Malco state, is a Ferris wheel! What Androboros teaches us is that even if this is the year 2017, ideologies and behaviours don’t just die.
They live on through us because we are a product of the people who lived before us. We can either acknowledge that and work on doing better or we can hold onto that toxicity by desiring a return to that era. Or, to bring down the bad guys, we have to ignore them (by acting like they’re dead and/or invisible) thus giving them less power, which causes them to worry about their sanity, and then band together to lead them to a trapdoor where they fall to their doom. In other words, teamwork!