“I had inferiority complex”.
How can I blame people I met post-inferiority complex stage? That “dark” phase was only witnessed by my grandparents who raised me when my parents were working, some house help, and probably our nosy lady neighbor who accidentally threw some morning urine out of the pot on grandpa when we were on our way to my first day of kindergarten.
As if that incident which caused me to be late for 10 minutes was not a traumatic interruption, I found myself suddenly next to rowdy kids who were oh so proud to express their excitement being in one of those little pastel colored chairs. Some boy was already running around with a red crayon as if he was chasing a hopeless girl with a butcher knife.
I, on the other hand, dug a virtual hole and hid in it. I thought I was in the room for an eternity yet after roughly five minutes, I dashed out of the classroom and braved my way into the crowd of anticipating parents to find my grandfather. “I don’ want to be there. It’s noisy”. I wish I said it that smoothly but I was stuttering out of fear. I had never been with so many people before. God! I survived that stage without saying anything even if encouraged by our dear teacher.
When my mom came home, briefly, our teacher set a meeting with her. “Your child has great potential. She is just painfully shy”. I thought I was going to be sent to a special doctor but my aunt cum sales person talked my mom into having me join a local speech workshop. So my mom did and I was again petrified. But that day changed me forever.
Gradually, I loved singing and acting with a bunch of like-minded kids. We were part of the Sound of Music production, recited Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death plus we had funny vocal exercises. I enjoyed my weekends speaking and interacting. An affirmation that I was able to overcome that “inferiority complex” was when I was asked to do the opening remarks for the recital in front of at least 500 spectators, our families included. I can still remember the last few lines, “So sit back and relax. The show is now starting. Happy viewing.” The show was a success that next term, more parents enrolled their children.
With a bag of confidence with me for seven years, I was finally in high school. Sure enough I started joining productions starring us chunky ol’ grandma or the male villain. I was never comfortable to portray princesses or ladies in despair, not because I did not like their characters, but because someone else was more graceful to look at than me who would force it. Besides, I had an affinity towards entertainingly bizarre characters.
Borrowed image from Google. Character depiction as seen on Disney's Hercules.
In sophomore year, we had to act out Greek gods and goddesses for a report. By chances given by tiny rolled papers through the fishbowl method, I got Demeter, the goddess of the harvest. It was fine.Ideas were rolling in my head when I heard a faint sigh a row from my seat. “Oh, I got Hades. It’s gonna be hard”. Without hesitation, “Hey, you wanna swap?”. She was surprised of course for Hades was perceived to be the hardest (or the most awkward). I think I nailed that role. Come on! I had a realistic flaming head, dark eyes, long nails, and a velvet robe. I got a high grade for that but the most satisfying part was that the other classes talked about it. It was damn worth it.
My mother who at that time stayed for good for both of my grandparents already passed away, always favored my wishes to perform but she would always ask why I never gave other roles a chance. And by those roles, she meant, the conventional ones. “But mom, I’m in the lead too”. “Yes, but you’re always unrecognizable. You sound different, your costumes are weird etc etc”. So I would just tell her that I gave those roles a try but they were given to someone else. One of my favorite roles was in our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Peter Quince, the carpenter and amateur playwright. We got a resounding applause and when I went to my mom with my uniform already on, “Where were you in the play?” I was there for a significant amount of time but she did not recognize me for I was a man. I was happy for that effective effect.
By the time I went to college, I had totally embraced the weird roles in my life. However, college proved to be a bigger pond. There were so many other eloquent, talented, and good-looking individuals who could fit into Shakespearean productions. For the first two years, I had admired these great men and women. They were flawless.
I eventually got tired as a spectator. I just wanted to act. I had a necessary urge to escape and be someone else at the expense of other people’s time and entertainment. Alas! My opportunity came to become an old ailing mother in a bucolic place. My second and the best, an official university play, was a local adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest as the coquettish Miss Prism. I embraced the blinding spotlight and the boisterous reactions. It felt good.
That freedom acting brings is not fleeting that I still seek it up to this day. I am not sad that I have let go of it, like a child who’s given up a toy. Those weird roles have greatly made me confident in facing anyone. I am not scared to be laughed at or scrutinized for I already have experienced them being on stage. But more often that not, people find me entertaining and I think this is what sustains me.
Hades and grandma are a huge hit after all.