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Oh hey, I'm doing this acting thing again

And you can come see it at the Averitt Center this weekend, I guess


April 19, 2016

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    I always feel the need to be overtly transparent whenever I do anything with the Averitt Center for the Arts, just in case someone calls shenanigans on the newspaper's entertainment editor being directly involved with a specific local venue. So, just as a PSA, I'm letting you know that I'm performing this weekend as Mistress Page in the Averitt Center's Merry Wives of Windsor.
    I pounced on the audition for this role because, as you know (since I mention it in literally almost every other column), I am a big ol' Shakespeare nerd. I had never seen or read this particular play and didn't actually know what it was about. But once I landed the role and started studying my lines, I found that — much like Gwendolen from The Importance of Being Earnest, the role I played in 2015 — Mistress Page and I have a lot in common: Namely, a rampant sense of mischief.
    The trickster is one of my favorite recurring archetypes in literature. I'm always rooting for the Lokis, the Anansis, the Fred and George Weasleys of world lit. I like to fancy myself a brilliant prankster in my own right (in a highly mistaken self-perception), but I have never had the pleasure of playing one onstage. And then I met Mistress Page.
    In this show, Mistress Page and her best friend, Mistress Ford, unleash their merciless mirth on a knight named Sir John Falstaff, who has the incredibly stupid idea of trying to seduce both women (with the same love letter, no less) in order to get at their husbands' money. Their pranks basically amount to physical abuse and public shaming — which are hilarious to watch and completely permissible within the play, but seem morally problematic when you step back for a second. It's a little like the moral at the end of Roald Dahl's Matilda: If a person is "bad," and you have the means and opportunity to punish them, why not? 
    Super problematic. Not okay in real life. 
    But for about two hours each night, I get to conveniently overlook my morals.
    The wonderful thing about theater is being able to wear a different skin for a little while, and give vent to the parts of yourself that you don't often get to indulge. I don't think I'm alone in thinking up creative revenge plots for people who have offended/hurt me, but I know acting on those impulses would be unkind —  I have a serious guilt complex that haunts me if I so much as speak sharply to someone. Mistress Page has no such qualms, and being able to unleash a little righteous fury (in a not-so-righteous way) has been gloriously fun.
    So if you'd like to see some mildly sadistic mischief and hijinks, come watch The Merry Wives of Windsor


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