She nervously rehearsed the lines she is going to use in her head before she takes the final step towards confrontation. She is no actress, however it feels like she must act in order to fit in in life at times – pretend to fit in, pretend to be alright with others acting the way they do, and pretend to have enough courage to pursue what she really wants in life. She gets frustrated because it seems that she is the only one attempting to play nice and by the rules of social engagement that she had so closely studied her entire life. If she could do it, why was it such a stretch for those around her?
Today she must play a part in another small skit themed around the art of confrontation. It is a musical, with high notes and very low notes, and intricate choreography that is easy to get lost in with one misstep. The lines are simple enough, but they feel as natural as acid pouring out of her mouth. The words burn her to have to say them and they leave a bad taste in the mouth of the audience, but they must be said for the sake of the play – the show must go on.
The scene is set in a place of assumed comfort and homeliness, where only innocent actions occur and things of little consequence. It is a humble home, complete with modest yet well-chosen commodities. The couch was free, yet appears to have cost a whole year’s worth of student wages. The standing mixer is a staple that any kitchen would be proud to house, but it is more than that, as it was shared with an open heart in a time of fortune and enjoying small-scale wealth – it is a symbol of ‘growing up’. Although the furniture is past the time of blatant mismatching, there is no central theme for the decor of the humble home. Is a place of comfort, modest income, and a mix of many personalities.
It is in this home of mixed personality that the young woman paces and practices her lines in a furious, intent fashion.
“Hey Tim, how’s it going?”, she would say as a soft opener in a high note, an invitation to conversation and a way to gauge her audience. She then falls into the choreography of an involved listener, searching for keywords to pick up and engage with her audience on – “That’s great that work is going so well!” or “I’m sorry to hear that work’s been frustrating lately, would you want to go hiking this weekend to get your mind off of things?” Listen, find key points, and engage, all with a kind, understanding face and manner; 123, 123. Satisfied with her dry run of this element of the lines and coordinating steps, she continues – “So, I’ve been meaning to ask you…” pausing ever so slightly so that she could glance at the audience and gauge what their reaction might be to this elusive question that she has been mulling over for quite some time. With her audience engaged, and on edge waiting for the delivery of this well thought out question, she pushes forward with the line that has been giving her so much trouble, “can I grab my posters out of your room?” With the line dangling in the air and a confused reaction from the audience, she dives into her solo of reasons as to why this request is not unusual or irrational – “I just would like to put them up in my own room,” no she thought, that’s a reason that will be followed up with a question, which will derail the direction this skit is headed in. “I want to use half the posters, and I figured it would look silly to leave the other half,” no she thought again, there are flaws in that line as well, the audience could then retort that they are happy to hold onto the other posters, whether they look silly or not. Her mind whips around to the real reason this skit began, “I don’t want my posters ruined with your carelessness; they mean a lot to me as they invoke memories, and I would like to preserve them.” No, she couldn’t use that line, it doesn’t fit with the lighthearted notes of the simple skit.
As she pauses and contemplates her lines, the curtains are drawn without her knowledge, and all of a sudden other actors have joined her on stage. This is the moment, there is no more rehearsal, she is on stage and better know her lines well. The skit flows smoothly without a hiccup, until she delivers the line “can I grab my posters from your room?”, she pauses, unsure of what line is to follow and what tone she wants to set for the close of the skit. The other actor, seeing her hesitation and uncertainty with her words, jumps in to save her from embarrassment, “of course you can,” he replied, “they are your posters after all.”
The woman sighs a sigh of relief and the curtains close. Off stage, she pulls her fellow actor aside and thanks him for saving her from herself at the end of the skit, with a genuine and earnest smile. “Of course,” responded, “I was just playing my part.” Little does he know that playing his part is far more than others have done for her in the past, and this act of kindness has renewed confidence her ability to play her part confidently, and without misstep.