One challenge I have faced and overcome, among many, was the first time I walked on stage as an actor. Let me set the scene if I may, excuse the pun. I was in my late twenties and had been a member of Jaycees for a number of years. My involvement there led to participating in debates which I hadn’t done before. When a flyer arrived in our mailbox asking for males and females to audition for a new play at the amateur theatre in the park about 5 minutes walk from home my new found confidence from my debating experience prompted me to “give it a go”.
The theatre group, Te Puke Repertory Society, has been in operation since 1952 and is still going strong although no doubt facing problems with the current pandemic curtailing performances. The play I was auditioning for was “I Have Five Daughters” written by Margaret MacNamara based on Jane Austen’s novel “Pride and Prejudice” and the role I was cast in was Charles Bingley. A photo of one of my entrances is shown above. I still have the original programme and photos from the production in my theatre scrapbook. My memories of the production other than that are faint but I do recall the almost absolute terror mixed with excitement that preceded my first entrance. I think I got through without dropping a line and my performance was probably adequate for an absolute novice. It must have been good enough because I went on to do another five plays with them over the next few years.
It was however the start of a nearly thirty year involvement in amateur theatre and it became my one major hobby. Every play would require a minimum of two months of weekly or twice weekly rehearsals and the performances would then run for between two and six weeks, although most were at the shorter end of that scale. Learning lines consumed much of the spare time between rehearsals so that it became a full on involvement for much of the year. I went on to perform in 29 plays over the same number of years including four in the theatre group I helped establish in Goroka in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Now that was an experience!
I did manage to quickly overcome the pre-show terror but it became an excitement of anticipation of getting out there again. I was hooked!