Thursday, April 24, 2008

I knew at an early age(say, 11 or so) that I would become an actor. I went to see a play, "The Glass Menagerie", by Tennessee Williams, at the Asolo State Theatre, in Sarasota, Florida as a field trip when I was enrolled at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Academy. I was in sixth grade, and terribly shy. I had just gotten glasses the year before, and my smile was a troubling one. My "eye teeth" were coming in at an angle, under both sides of my upper lips, --such that they appeared pointed, and fang-like.I had pale olive skin(and I had patches of very white skin forming--the opposite of freckles, on my face-- a medical condition known as vitiligo--and it gave me a "ghostly" look). And I had long, wavy black-ish hair, and so, was called "vampire" and "Dracula" by more than a few kids. I remember feeling heat in my face whenever a teacher called on me to answer a question. Even when I knew I had the correct answer, I still felt terribly unsure, self-conscious, shy. Everything changed, in an instant, when I witnessed "Laura Wingfield" alighting the stage. She entered the room, and I felt my breath quicken, as she spoke to "The Gentleman Caller, Jim" , about her disability. The play of course, was tender and moving in all the ways it could be---Laura discovering a love interest(though it was unrequited); Laura learning to express her deepest desire, learning to take a chance. On herself.
When I returned home, I told my Mom, "I think I know what I'm going to be when I grow up."
"What's that?" she asked, looking me directly in the eye.
"An actress."
"Lisa, you're so shy. Are you sure you could do that?"
"Yes," I said. "You can be this other person, and everyone can understand you."
In that moment, though I did not realize it, I was tapping into what I think everyone wants to be, when they grow up---understood.
I discovered later that I find myself in a role, rather than lose myself in a role, and the exchange between actor and audience thrills me to this day. And that afternoon at Asolo State Theatre? It was my my first taste of "communion" outside of the Latin Mass I attended several times a week at our school's church.


Collin said...

I wanted to be a writer and I became one. Wanting to be Wonder Woman doesn't count. ;-)

Selma said...

I wanted to be a teacher and a writer. Did the teacher bit. Still working on the writer. I've had a few things published but not enough to earn a living from it. However, I am determined to get there in the end.

Lisa Allender said...

Hi Coll--and you are indeed a WRITER--a quite interesting one!
Selma--I bet you were a greatteacher--in your blog, you exemplify the qualities I'd want in a teacher:intelligence, wit, and empathy!