Registration for the class opened and I came very close to running away from it all. As someone who has only been dabbling in theater, I was daunted by the prospect of taking a play from page to stage in just 6 weeks. Lines, characters, blocking, props, costume, music, lights all included. It seemed especially impossible beside a full time day job that often demands more than the typical 40 hour work week. Not to mention, I was somewhat intimidated by Darragh after witnessing his powerful portrayal of the protagonist in The Trial. He and his company of actors seemed way too stellar for tiny little me. But I pulled the trigger anyway.
On the first day, I brought my uncertain self into class and was introduced to a room full of mostly strangers (thank God for the few familiar faces), who I’m sure were all feeling equally uncomfortable. We spent most of that evening trying to break the ice and running through a first read of the play that was to be in 6 weeks. Almost, Maine. I spent a lot of time with these strangers over the next few weeks building quirky characters within a mythical town named Almost in the remote outlands of northern Maine. 10 hours a week to be precise. The strangers went from being strangers to co-actors to friends to family. A family whose warmth quickly melted away my fears. A family that made 6 hour long rehearsal sessions seem not just effortless, but thoroughly enjoyable. A family that epitomized teamwork and cooperation in a way I have seldom experienced before.
As for Darragh, he radiated discipline and dedication. His humility showed me that there’s nothing glamorous or far-fetched about theater and acting. It takes hard work and a willingness to achieve, no different from my non-glamorous day job as a software engineer.
And before I knew it, nine beautiful little vignettes had blossomed out of the process. The feeling of fulfillment and togetherness I felt with the ensemble the night of the performances is hard to put down in words. It’s secondary that the performances themselves were almost magical (no pun intended) and received great feedback from family and friends.
In retrospect, the magic realism depicted in the play seems oddly befitting of the short-lived yet strongly inspiring experience I had through this process. I only hope I gave back to this family a tenth of what I received from it.
Photo from Almost, Maine
Pictured: Steve Lien and Archana Srikanta
Photo by Scott Maddock