As a small town young man in high school, I was selected to attend a prestigious 5-week program in the Arts in my home state of Pennsylvania. The program was made up of young artists in various genres (kind of like the movie Fame) from around the state, and I was in the Theater Program. The last thing I expected to learn during that time was a lesson about racism – from a fellow student.
With professionals training us, from a Broadway actress to a university theater director, we were learning from the best. Our acting program was intensive, and the sessions themselves were physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging.
While I loved the improv classes (learning to throw lobs to one another, like Who’s Line Is It Anyway), some of the other exercises we did were a little, say, stretching for me.
If you’re going to go deep into the world of acting, the training is designed to help you develop a wide range of emotional skills – affective skills – that will enable you to act more convincingly in a variety of roles.
My experience during one exercise, in particular, has come back to me in force in these troubling days of racial tension – and it feels like yesterday that it happened.