Posted in English 1103, Theatre, Writing

ENG 1103: Another Way with Words

Helga (Jane Lucas) in Creative Greensboro’s production of The Wolves of Ravensbruk (2021) / Sam McClenaghan

I wrote the blog post that follows as a sample for your own introductory post. You are required to write only one-hundred words and feature one relevant photograph, but I encourage you to write more than the minimum and include additional pictures.

Though I began performing in community theatre as a teenager in the 1980s, I was away from it—focusing on my teaching and writing—for more than twenty-five years. Becoming an acting student in my forties—enrolling in classes in Richmond, Virginia, in 2011 and 2012—rekindled my passion for the craft. I fell in love with acting all over again, and I found myself wondering how I’d ever left it.

(L-R): Rosa (Beth Strader), Gizela (Nicole Weintraub), Zofia (Mary Quagliano), Helga (Jane Lucas), Ilse (Camille Wright), and Gertja (Rebecca Stanifer) / Sam McClenaghan

Since moving back to North Carolina in 2013, I have performed in plays with Creative Greensboro, Foothills Performing Arts, Goodly Frame Theatre Company, the Green Room Community Theatre, Hickory Community Theatre, the Hickory Playground, Newton Performing Arts Center, and Shared Radiance Performing Arts Company.

(L-R): Helga (Jane Lucas) and Jozefina (Cass Weston) / Sam McClenaghan

Most recently, I appeared on stage as Helga, the Nazi prison guard in the premiere production of The Wolves of Ravensbuk by Sally Kinka, which was received the New Play Project Prize awarded annually by the Creative Greensboro’s Playwright’s Forum.

(L-R): Zofia (Mary Quagliano), Helga (Jane Lucas), Jozefina (Cass Weston), and Gizela (Nicole Weintraub) / Sam McClenaghan

Performing the role of Helga proved to be one of my most challenging roles. Along with the difficulty of playing a despicable character who commits barbarous acts and barks mean-spirited words, the work of playing Helga was rigorous because of the length of her monologues and alterations in my voice required for me to convey some semblance of a German accent. Though Helga did not speak more lines than any other character I’ve played, she spoke more words in each speech, or monologue, than any other character I’ve played. That volume of words coupled with the difficulty of speaking in a foreign voice–one in which my “th” sounds morphed into “z”’s–made me more vocally tired than I’d ever been.

Though the role was tiring, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to play it. For me as a writer, acting is another way of working with words, a process of transporting them from the page to the stage and transforming the language into the utterances of a living, breathing character—someone who isn’t me but in whom I can live truthfully, as the acting teacher Sanford Meisner said, under the given imaginary circumstances.

Next Up

At the beginning of class on Wednesday, January 26, you will turn in your completed work sheet for the first lesson in the Check, Please! course. You may handwrite your assignment on the back of the worksheet, or staple a typed copy to it. If you did not receive a copy because you were absent today, you can download the worksheet below or from Blackboard.

Also, in class on Wednesday, you will begin your preliminary work on your first paper assignment, your analysis. You will receive a copy of that assignment at the beginning of the class period.

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