I’ve never done anything like this. Yet on the evening of Aug. 28., I found myself in front of the director citing a one-minute monologue, hoping to land a role in the upcoming play Antigone that had been personally commissioned by President Holland.
Antigone is an ancient Greek play about law, family, tradition, rebellion and love. It’s deep. It’s insightful. It’s a beautiful piece of literature. The first performance will be Oct. 7 at the student center’s quad. It starts at 5 p.m.
The first time I heard about the play, I saw it on a digital sign by the front desk of the library. I noted the date and time, and I placed it in the calendar in my Blackberry.
I love reading Greek philosophy and Greek poetry, so I thought this would be an incredible chance to experience both in a whole new way. I’ve never been to a Greek play, so I reasoned that at least I’d know where the theater was located, so I could get there early and get a good seat. I never imaged I’d actually get a part in it.
The auditions took place in the Noorda Theatre. The theatre was much smaller than I thought it was going to be, but its size made it very intimate and quiet. I got there, and there were several other people practicing their monologues. It was fun being in the middle of a group of people holding papers and shouting out loud.
I signed in with the front desk and I waited for my name. I was second in line. The first person who went in was a Theater major that wanted to get a master’s in Philosophy. He disappeared behind the doors, and everything was quiet for about eight minutes. Suddenly, I heard shouting from behind the doors.
“Oh, boy,” I thought. “What did I get myself into?”
They called my name, “Nathan!” I promptly got up and thanked the front desk person for calling me. I walked in through the big black doors, and it already felt different. It was quiet. There was no one else in the theater but me, the director and another professor.
“Welcome,” the director said. “Please tell us about yourself and what you’ll be reciting today.”
“Philoctetes. He’s rebuking a thief who stole his soul,” I responded.
I walked up to the yellow line and started my monologue. They could tell I was nervous, but they were both impressed with the piece I chose.
Then one professor got up from his chair and slowly walked down to where I was standing.
“Nathan,” he said, as he put his hand on my shoulder. “Here in the theater, we want to feel emotion. We want to experience real feeling. I want you to try the piece again and imagine I’m the one who stole your essence.”
I looked at him with disbelief. It was the only time I’ve ever heard someone talk about wanting emotion in a university context. No quizzes. No tests. Emotion.
“Okay,” I said. “I’ll try again.”
This time I didn’t care if I got my lines right. I didn’t care if they ever saw me again. I was going to speak with the feeling this writer wrote, and I wanted to feel all of it.
Something deep came up from my heart. I paused. I felt the emotion swell up in me until it came out of my mouth. Since I memorized the words, I was able to look right into the professor’s eyes and demand that he give me back my soul. I didn’t have a sword, or a body guard. I just had words. I rebuked him and told him that he took the only thing that made me, me.
And then it was over.
“Thank you, Nathan. We’re glad you came out,” he said. “Please exit on your left.”
I felt a little unsure about expressing something so powerful, deep and intimate with strangers. But it also felt very good for some reason.
I graciously thanked them and then walked out. I noticed that something changed inside of me. There was something more there than there was before. Was it the feeling you get when you create something beautiful for the first time?
The next day I found my name on the UVU Antigone blog. I had received a call back to read for different parts of the play.
I made it. I was going to be a part of something beautiful and wonderful.