In London, I took a risk and bought a bunch of plays I knew nothing about.
The first play I read had my eyes glued to the page and within minutes of finishing it, I was approaching my roommates saying READ THIS. please. Now. quickly. I need someone else to feel the wonder and appreciation I feel.
I didn’t know if I fit into the play, but I knew I loved it and I knew it had to be seen.
That play is now my thesis.
Well it wasn’t that simple. I knew I wanted to act, and I knew I was in love with the play, but I still didn’t know my place in it.
Image of an Unknown Young Woman by Elinor Cook is a play that examines tragic events and how the modern world interacts with them. It has 4 female roles, 1 male one and three genderless roles. I was leaning towards a character named Leyla. She is young, feisty, strong. And her arc in the story has a trauma of it’s own. One that is vulnerable and scary and completely onstage. A role that I was excited about getting the chance to play.
I then had a quick talk with my director.
What do you think about Candace?
Um. Maybe? I hadn’t married myself to the idea of playing Leyla so I knew I had to give this character an equal shot.
Candace is an older woman. 50s. She sits outside the affected world and does what she can to make a difference. She is a bit timid. Nervous but willing. Alone. Her arc may not be as thematically “dramatic” as Leyla’s but Candace’s journey is by no means insignificant.
In my mind, Candace was my type cast. Leyla was the girl I probably wouldn’t play in the professional world, so this felt like a last chance to play someone like her.
I knew something didn’t feel right. I reread Candace’s part after she was suggested to me and I knew she was the right choice. It took me a while to figure out why.
In our training, we are encouraged to take risks. To try and fail. To be something we are not. To do something that may not come naturally. I have grown leaps and bounds through this way of thinking and I am truly grateful for it.
There is a certain type of bravery in exploring things that are similar to you. There is bravery in facing your own truth.
I wanted to play Leyla because she is so unlike me. She is not afraid to state her beliefs. She is not afraid to face danger. She doesn’t back down easily. She is everything I strive to be.
Candace is almost too close to me and the truths I have trouble facing. My own timidity in the face of conflict. My eagerness to make change but my anxiety about doing so. My questioning and realizing what I am truly capable of. She is a role that forces me to confront truths about myself that would otherwise go ignored.
So I will play Candace. Because I am devoted to challenging myself while I have the space to do so.
And sometimes facing yourself is the greatest challenge.