It feels invigorating and almost otherworldly, to place oneself in another’s shoes and experience life from their perspective and yet somehow have it merge into yours. That’s what acting feels like to me and ever since I can remember, it has always been an integral part of my life.
Playing characters and getting to be someone other than myself has always been something fun for me. When I look back and think about ‘playing pretend’ as a child, I realize now that this was acting, in a way, and that we all do it as children. Acting is, at the end of the day, ‘playing’ characters and when one goes into training – we are constantly reminded of this.
I had participated in my first school play when I was just five years old and, as a child, I remember taking both rhythmic gymnastics and drama as after-school extracurriculars. It was the magical world of drama however, that seemed to lure me in and when a time had come in which I had to choose between gymnastics and drama – it was not a difficult decision.
I continued participating in various plays all throughout my years at school, until I had decided to study theatre (alongside journalism) at university. While at university, I continued to act in plays as well as delve deeper into the various aspects and intricacies of both acting and theatre as a whole. At this point in my life, acting was no longer mere ‘play’, but a vocation that rose to a higher, more serious, level.
The idea of analyzing characters and scenes, and characters’ relationships to each other and figuring out what the subtext of a dialogue or monologue is – all of these things fascinated me and still continue to do so. I began to realize that acting is a beautifully empathetic way to understand human beings, to understand the world and, ultimately, understand yourself a little better.
In this way, acting is so much more than simply portraying characters for entertainment purposes. In addition to entertaining, it is also a way to convey a truth that audiences can perhaps relate to – and in that sense, it is a way to connect people with one another.
Being an actor and attempting to connect to a character in order to portray or tell a certain story to audiences is quite a daunting task – which is precisely why training is so important. And it is this very training that has taught me so much more beyond what I would just need to know about acting, but also generally about life.
And so, even if someone wants absolutely nothing to do with acting as a profession, I believe everyone should take at least one acting course in their lives. If anything, acting classes are a lot of fun and they will certainly push people beyond their limits in the most subtle of ways, and help provide a creative output for self expression.
In a society where vulnerability and expression are seen as weaknesses, it is important to highlight their strengths and why it is vital to allow oneself to express and to be vulnerable. We are all humans after all, and every single person goes through things in their lives. Something that is absolutely beautiful about acting classes is the fact that everyone is encouraged to let go and not care about what other people might be thinking – it truly is a ‘safe space’ and people will quickly realize that they are not alone in the world or in what they’re feeling.
Other than allowing oneself to let go and temporarily disconnect from the ‘outside world’ – which in turn allows the person to connect more with themselves – people will also come to find that they can surprise themselves with what they are capable of doing. In a room of like-minded people, shyness slowly but surely fades away and everyone ultimately allows themselves to be seen and heard in ways they may not have otherwise imagined. And on top of all that, people get to re-connect with the child within themselves and simply enjoy a good play – they can go back to the days of playing pretend and storytelling and wear different characters as they would clothes, and it’s truly a form of expression unlike any other.
So if anyone is thinking of trying out something new, pushing themselves out of their comfort zone, or simply finding a way to briefly escape the business of everyday life, then I would suggest taking an acting course, and discovering a new perspective of the world and of themselves.
There are various acting workshops readily available across Cairo… some workshops/studios that I would recommend are Studio Zat in Heliopolis, Cairo Contemporary Dance Centre in Mohandesin (they mainly offer dance workshops, but occasionally offer acting ones as well) and Luke Lehner Studios in Maadi.