Monday, September 16, 2013

I Want To Be Peter!



Is it wrong to still be mad about something that happened in kindergarten? Let's hope not. I will say that it's slightly eerie how well I remember this little snippet of my life. I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday morning but I can tell you exactly what shoes I had on the day this happened.

So anyway...... that's me in my first theatrical performance, a rousing rendition of Peter Rabbit (I'm the middle bunny standing up behind the table). Our kindergarten class was mounting a spectacular new version of the timeless classic and I was so excited I couldn't stand it. I get to be on stage? In front of everyone? And they'll clap when I'm done? Sign me up! I loved it. Audition day came before I knew it and I was certain mine was going to kill. What part did I want? Well Peter of course. He was the lead, had the most lines and hell the play was named after him.

At the start of auditions my teacher explained we would begin with Peter and asked for anyone who would like to audition to raise their hands. Mine immediately went up, as did two other boys. David was ok but kind of weird....the audience would never connect with him. Josh was a great kickball player but an actor he was not. I had this in the bag. Then my teacher said something I will never forget....Kelly you can't play Peter he's a boy. Huh? Why not? It's called acting!?

For the next 15 minutes I engaged my teacher in a debate that I was sure would change her mind. What about movies where the same actor ages 50 years? That's like saying I can't play Anne Frank because I'm not Jewish! David and Josh can't act! That chair emotes better than they do! It didn't change her mind and I was relegated to playing Peter's sister. Three lines and a song about how much fun life on the farm is and the play was over. Well that officially sucked!

I hadn't thought about it in years but then the other day I was having a facebook chat with a friend who mentioned he had adapted Hamlet and hadn't given up hope of it being staged one day. Without thinking I immediately said I would love to play Hamlet (a bucket-list dream of mine) and the Peter Rabbit incident came rushing back. There are some wonderful characters in Hamlet, even a great female one, but Hamlet is the most interesting and meaty part in my estimation (much like Peter:)) so why wouldn't I want to play him? Seems my thinking hasn't changed much.

Back to kindergarten....I do think my teacher should have had more of an open mind and given me a chance to at least audition. If I was the best one then I should have gotten the part despite the fact that I was a girl. But that's water under the bridge and slashing her tires the next day was adequate revenge. That's a joke by the way. I only slashed one of them. I did get a chance a few years later to break the gender barrier and play Pinocchio in Pinocchio Don't Smoke That Cigarette. That stunning piece of theatrical genius, which Sondheim himself would have been proud of, was aimed at keeping us elementary school kids off drugs. My performance was simply riveting...riveting I tell you!

Moral of the story is keep plugging away and one day you'll find someone who does recognize what you can do, despite any obvious roadblocks, and hopefully you'll get the chance to do it. Maybe one day I'll even get the chance to hold Yorick in my hands and extol that most famous of monologues.....

"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? (Hamlet, V.i.)"

My line in Peter Rabbit was.....

"Watch out Peter or you'll fall!" I'm still mad!!!!!!!

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