A Community Theatre with Community
By: AE Sarver (The Beggar Woman)
“Acting is behaving truthfully under imaginary circumstances.”
– Sanford Meisner
Around the same time Sweeney Todd rehearsals were picking up, I had the privilege of taking a Meisner Acting class with Professor Jerry Cohagan, the director of Sweeney Todd. This acting technique is one that encourages each actor to tear down walls, lose filters, and maintain a terrifying, yet freeing openness to vulnerability. I learned a lot from this class, but one thing that sticks out in my mind is that when we allow ourselves to just be, and not control everything around us, that is when we can discover the most truthful and creative moments.
I obviously wanted to take what I learned in the class to the stage, and I have that opportunity in Sweeney Todd. This is my first Acting Out Theatre show and compared to many other community theatre experiences, Acting Out continues to impress me in many areas. They do not forget to emphasize the ‘community’ in community theatre. In every show I’ve participated in, I have found some sense of camaraderie with the cast, but I continually see Acting Out directors, crew, and fellow cast members stress this importance of camaraderie.
You may question how in a show about a “demon barber” can there be camaraderie and shared experiences of truth and vulnerability? Perhaps it’s a culmination of Acting Out’s staff, the exquisite talent and spirit of the cast, and the shared determination to put on a stellar production.
I would also attribute our camaraderie and the natural community bond to our openness to vulnerability. As we allow ourselves to trust the truth that resonates through storytelling on a stage, we realize that theatre is indeed a safe place to feel new emotions, experience other worlds, and gain a new perspective of the world around us. Through theatre, we can experience a cathartic, even transcendental, moment, where we are invited into a new world of understanding our humanness a little more: growth, hope, joy, sorrow, vengeance, regret, freedom.