the transformative power of live theater


Antaeus Diary: Day One Of The Shakespeare Workshop

An entry by Richard Flores

Antaeus Diaries provide unique perspectives on Classical Theater from the Antaean point of view. In this installment, rookie actor Richard Flores describes his experiences on Day One of the Shakespeare Workshop at Antaeus.

Chills, sweats, and groans could be observed around the theater as actors — new and experienced — chartered through day one of The Antaeus Shakespeare Workout. The first day, I was so excited. I had been instructed to pick a monologue before class began. I picked Edmund’s first monologue from Act I scene 2 of King Lear. He seemed like a character that would be fun to play because of the duality of his character.

As we began the class, we were introduced to each other. Rowena Balos, our instructor, asked what our biggest acting block was. Since I’ve never acted, I looked back to the days I did Speech and said “My voice goes through puberty at times because the nerves get the better of me.”

As the class continued, we began exercises to take away our stiffness. “So far, so good,” I thought. But then we began other exercises that were out of my comfort zone. Rowena had us imagine our monologue and anything that might have led to that point of the monologue. Then she said, “Walk around and say what you think the character would have said before the actual monologue.”

I had a hard time talking to myself! I thought to myself, “This is so weird! I feel foolish speaking to myself walking around like a crazy kid in the midst of all these other crazies doing the same thing.” It was like a room full of schizos.

I knew I had to do it though; it had to pay off one day. Whatever Rowena wanted from me I was wiling to do – ridiculous or not. After all, much of acting requires situations where we’re out of our comfort zone. I know as the classes go on, I’ll gain confidence and it won’t be so tough to look like a crazy person.

I’m glad I’m going the classical route. I think classical theater needs be kept around despite today’s generation being turned off. It seems theater is for an older crowd. I think youth miss out on the importance of seeing what catalyzed today’s acting.

It’s also a community thing. People gather together in once place to watch some of the greatest stories of all time, and at the same time intellectually stimulate the mind rather than sit at home alone watching mindless television, as seems to be the trend today. I don’t even think people sit around the table anymore to have dinner; the dinner table today is simply for decorative purposes. Theater brings some of that communal aspect back. This is something people have taken for granted nowadays and must be kept alive. Don’t get me wrong, I love TV like any other American, but really, there’s something about being there live that makes me feel part of something.

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