By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
ABERDEEN – A soft-spoken conversation blows up into a shouting match within a couple of minutes during an improv session.
After three minutes of gazing at the ceiling, an actress with a slightly nervous disposition whisks into an imaginary Southern evening on the porch with crickets chirping all around her.
“Sometimes when we get to class, we act like we’re tense since we have to do our monologues, but once you own that feeling it’s not so scary. With acting you’re faced with a challenge of finding a character, bringing it to life and making it real,” said acting teacher Carolyn Parson.
A 20-plus-year veteran of acting, Parson’s recent session of classes began earlier this year and is nearing the end of its second session. The weekly classes explore learning monologues, piecing together scenes and character building.
Parson works closely with the Tupelo Film Festival and recently starred as a waitress in the independent film “Third Shift.”
“I started taking this class to mainly spend time with my son, but I soon found out that it helped build my self-confidence,” said Caye Durbin.
A string of aspiring actors gather around the Elkin Theatre’s lobby each Thursday night, escaping to different places where the scripts take them.
“I’m trying to bring out the real side of you. Whatever your instincts are telling you is real and if you don’t connect to that, you’re just reciting lines. The audience will believe it if the actor believes it,” Parson said.
At the beginning of class, the students use descriptive words to convey whatever happy, tired or nervous feelings they have at that moment. These expressions are building blocks for how to adjust into character later.
“There’s no emotion we’ll go into here that’s not normal to human nature. We try to create an artificial life and to do so, we have to use all our senses,” Parson said.
Even though standing in front of others in character to either read lines or recite them from memory is scary, the class members describe it as scary fun.
“When you’re backstage about to go on, you go blank thinking about what you’re about to do. Sometimes when you’re on stage, you go blank,” said Lee Harris, who formerly acted with a troupe in Joliet, Ill., before she retired to Aberdeen.
Parson’s goal with the acting class is to eventually start an acting troupe for the Elkin. In addition to actors, she’s also looking for behind-the-scenes workers as well.
The third session of the acting class begins Sept. 20 and will focus more on character building. Anyone interested in joining can enroll at any point and work up from a beginning level. The classes are $45 per session and anyone interested can call (602) 284-8678.