I was nervous, as I walked to the farthest academic building on campus. Naturally, I donned my hat, partially because my hair wasn’t cooperating, and partially because it made me feel safe, or safer in the hustle bustle of students. I was rather unsure about this class, but a somewhat friend had reassured me of its merits, so I’d have to give it a try at the very least.
Relief spread through me, closing the chasm of anxiety I was previously falling into, when I was greeted by people I already knew outside of the massive room where the class was to occur.
“Oh my god,” one of them exclaimed, “is that who I think it is, because hot damn!”
“I love your hat!”
“Please tell me you’re in theatre class too!”
These people were my friends, and the prospect of having them in my class was wonderfully comforting. The compliments put me at ease too, though I, by no means felt very dressed up. Later, I’d realize the instructor preferred us as comfortable as possible, so it didn’t matter much.
It took the teacher a while to appear, and she was everything I expected, and more. I’d met her before, when I mistook her for another student, and ranted about the merits of the theatrical experience. I’d later apologized for any offense I had caused – which was surprisingly none to my paranoid little head – and complimented her for the spectacular monologue that had been delivered by one of her students, and what a monologue it was.
The class was nothing that comes to my mind when we talk of theatre. I was expecting glorious, snobbish, poets and artists who wouldn’t look at me twice, and would steal the entire show. To my elation, there was none of that. The entirety of the drama people were accepting; warm, friendly and genuine were three words that would easily come to mind. The instructor was the kind of lovely you don’t find among society these days. As if some sort of long lost, yet well-loved scripture or piece of art had come to light again, my heart lit up like a collector’s eyes.
We were asked to make a circle, which led to holding hands with strangers, and slightly nervous smiles for what was to come. Introductions were rather intriguing, a little piece of me was theirs, and vice versa. There was diversity in demeanor, majors, city of origin, religion, and art.
The thing is, beloved leader, we were not encouraged to act. There was to be no pretense, we were told. We were asked to feel, to be, to become the characters we would be assigned. In a world where so many of us are told to suppress our emotions, where feeling or feeling too much – if there’s such a thing – is not encouraged especially in our male counterparts, where expression is celebrated but limited, imagine what it feels to be told that we must feel in full capacity, to absorb the jilt of the tidal wave, and to shudder alongside everyone else in the tsunami that follows? Its freedom unaltered. To feel is to be human, and in those three hours of my first ever class, I felt like nothing less.
We danced, and made noise, and guess what? No eyebrows were raised, no glances of discomfort exchanged. It was as if the very walls of that room echoed love, and laughter, and passion.
I felt alive, more alive than I had in ages, and that sums up my first theatrical experience.