By Rebecca Sigler’17
I continuously underestimate the experience drawn from holding a raw script in hand and being gifted the opportunity to perfect one portion of it – your character, your part – in order to contribute to the composite. Officially, it has only happened twice – and once, the majority of the script was charted harmonies for fourteen and common stage directions included “While running down theatre’s center aisle” and “In a ridiculous voice.” Leave it to GODSPELL to be a good time!
The second and most recent time, I found potentially the starkest difference imaginable: three hours’ worth of text about the medieval French history / the trial of Joan of Arc. It was an overwhelming hundred pages of photocopied text and upon receiving the cast list, my name found a place besides a part I thought myself ineligible for. THE INQUISITOR. What is an Inquisitor, anyway? Mental association instantly drew me to the Spanish Inquisition, but aware that French and English history would be more prevalent for the play, I remained confused. But alas, the power of Google! I happened upon a PDF of the play and did some skimming – which officially induced panic as I discovered that I spoke for the entirety of the second act.
(All of you in the cast, you know it’s true!) It was essentially a twenty-minute monologue disguised as dialogue, in which Joan occasionally contributed a “Yes, my lord” so my character could have time to breathe. And again, let us recall that my last lines on stage in GODSPELL were all of one sentence, and had to do with shooing Lazarus from my imaginary doorstep.
Terror. There really is only one word to describe this moment in time, and terror just about covers all the high points. Little stage experience, masses of text to memorize, the idea of playing a male character all added to this; not to mention, the character itself was terrifying with lines such as “Will you never grant, O Lord, that the world should be unburdened of every trace of humanity?” Rough. The lines were a glorified justification of every one of history’s horrific crimes against humankind, embodied in one character.
I had every reason to doubt my abilities in this part, to reject the role. Nevertheless, I found myself on stage a week later. I found myself embarking on the exhilarating experience, raw script in hand…