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Dylan Cruz's Blog
One year ago, I was starring in a production at my college called, "The Playboy of The Western World." I can't believe it's been one year since this show premiered to sold out crowds our entire run. My first debut back to theater after many years, and it all happened on campus, where I was currently a full-time student-- navigating through the ups and downs college brings.
There was a musical that was casting one day, I kept walking by the audition sign ups-- contemplating wether or not I should audition. I mean I sing, but the thought of doing a musical and having to try to read music sheets terrified me. I crossed my name off of the list and went about my day. In my acting class, my professor later asked me to audition for the new show that our college would be doing. Telling him I'd think about it, I went home and kept trying to talk myself into it..... and out of it again and again. I finally made the last minute decision to audition so I went back to the school that next week in the evening. I sat there in the Arts building, going over my monologue. You could tell that nearly everyone there to audition, already knew each other. I called my friends because the anxiety was getting to me. I haven't done professional theater in so long, what if I screw up? I don't even know what a theater audition is like anymore, because I mainly audition for TV and Film. I went back and forth and told my friends that I'm just gonna walk out and they of course, convinced me to stay. My name was called and I nervously walked into one of our campus theaters. I greeted my professor as well as the director of the play and I began my monologue. Thinking I did awful, the director said, "wow, that was a really good piece." They sent me out of the theater with sides for the cold-read. I went in with 3 other people I've never met before and as they performed in their Irish accents-- I thought, if I do an accent I've never done, it might affect my acting. If I don't do it, I can show them strong acting. So I took the risk and didn't do the accent at all. We finished the audition and went on to leave. I left feeling at peace with not getting cast at all. I knew this would be a huge challenge and the question that was haunting me: Was I ready?
The next day, as I ran late to my psychology class, I get a call from the productions stage manager telling me that they'd like to offer me the role of Christy Mahon. I of course took the role but immediately got struck by the fear and anxiety of going back to the stage-- having not been there in years. After that, I headed into my acting 1 course where my professor greeted me with a smile and told me how proud he was. He also said, this is the lead to don't F*** it up." Trying to gather me words, I managed to choke out, "Excuse me?" At this point, I hadn't even read the play, so I had no clue what was to come. We began our table reads right before the holidays, where we all attempted to read in our accents. Mine was absolutely terrible and I struggled through it due to the nature of the text and language in general. After that we had a nice break for the holiday's and then as I hit my second semester in college as a full-time student was when our rehearsals started. Once February hit, we had rehearsal practically everyday; during those rehearsals our director just gave me such a hard time and I always questioned why. I knew what I was capable of and I have dreamt of this for a long time, but getting yelled at and never receiving vocal affirmation-- it became discouraging. I was beyond stressed and just couldn't keep up. Being up at 6:50AM every morning, at class by 8AM out by 4-4:30pm, go to work, then go straight to rehearsals till 10 or 11PM; back home, eat dinner at 12-12:30AM and do homework till 3-4AM... That was my life until we finally opened the show. I had a hard time during the rehearsal process because of being the lead, the pressure continued to stack on my shoulders like giant weights. Overtime I remember, I would listen to my cast-mate, Vera--she was actually from Mayo, Ireland where this play takes place and she had the accent. After listening to her, eventually I was able to get the dialect down and become comfortable and confident as I stood outside of my comfort zone. Everyday, I nearly pulled my hair out trying to memorize 3 acts, but one day, I had a pep talk with myself and decided I will no longer allow the negative words to affect me. If I know what I'm capable of doing, then I believe I can and WILL get there. So, I worked harder to memorize all of my lines, my blocking, and character breakdowns. Although there were many time I wanted to quit, I had to remind myself that if I did, it would destroy me more than anything. Pushing through, I finally memorized nearly all of my lines and by the end of the rehearsal, our director FINALLY gave me vocal affirmation with really positive words. At that moment, I felt as if the weight I was carrying for some time, lifted. Two days before opening day, we all went to our fight call to execute the fight choreography we were professionally trained to do. As we went on to do it, all I can remember is turning too fast, getting "hit" and falling (like I was supposed to) only I felt dizzy and fell wrong--hitting the back of my head on the ground. I opened my eyes only to see the room spinning and as I laid on my stomach, I lifted my head and I felt fluid rushing out of my nose. Did I get hit in the face? What happened? Am I bleeding? All of these questions overwhelmed my head. I was able to kind of see and it wasn't blood it was completely clear. Someone brought me tissues and I could hear our director calling out to me to see if I was ok, only I couldn't put the words together to answer. From that point I had no recollection of falling on the ground, I was confused. I began to yell stating, "Say the line! Let's go! Why are we stopping?!" I became slightly aggressive--only I wasn't even aware of that. From what I'm told, I was asked if I was sure I wanted to keep going and I said yes. I finished the scene and afterward I ran down to the dressing room feeling nauseated. When I got back upstairs, I was forced to sit down and put ice on my head. Non-coherent of the world around me during this time, my brother picked me up and took me to the hospital where I found out that I had a minor concussion. The scariest part, was that I couldn't even remember how any of this happened, so it was hard for me to tell the doctor. I began to fear the thought of not being able to remember any of my lines and all we had rehearsed.
Shortly after, we hit tech week as soon as I came back from a small road trip with friends and we worked very hard to prepare for the show we'd be opening on Feb. 24th, 2016. I was becoming close to this cast, I even celebrated my birthday with them during tech week and my parents were adamant about having a dinner for my birthday--as tired as I already was. As tech week came to a close, the words that came out of our directors mouth finally paved the way for us to breathe life into what we've worked on. "I'm handing the show to you guys, we have a show and it's now your show. I'll see you opening night tomorrow." His words excited me as I thought about this journey and how much of an obstacle it was-- that I overcame. We reached opening night and we found out that the show sold out the ENTIRE run. As we got ready, I looked into the mirror as I sat in my dressing room chair, thinking about the crazy journey it took to get to this very moment. Feeling all kinds of emotions, we were finally called up to the stage and before we knew it, we debuted, "The Playboy of The Western World." I could go on and on about my experience performing the show to each audience, but it'd be a book. Every night I got to be on that stage, I realized how much of my heart I was sharing with others. From living this story-- to our bows at the end of our shows... it all made it so worth every ounce of exhaustion, stress, sweat, tears, etc. Seeing my family at a plethora of the shows throughout the run rooted an unwavering feeling a pride and humility. This is who I am; it's what I want to do and my family got to share this experience with me.
If you are an actor, artist, creator, etc... NEVER give up on your dreams! Have patience and hold onto the Faith--already knowing that it WILL happen. Push through the No's, the discouragement, the doubt and fear; push through the negative comments and CHOOSE to make YOUR dream, a reality and trust me, one day it will happen for you!
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