Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mr. Fob the Actor

When I was fourteen I spent the summer with my dad in Green Bay and so attended the local Mormon church there. At some point during that summer one of the girls at church asked me why I was so shy.

"I'm not shy," I said, "I'm an actor. I'm just acting like a shy person."

She immediately recognized what a lame thing that was to say and repeated it, giggling, to everyone in a three-mile radius.

It was true that the shy persona I adopted in most public situations was not the real Mr. Fob, and it was also true that I fancied myself an actor, but the "acting" in this case had little to do with any kind of conscious decision. I was simply socially awkward--even more so than I still am.

I first got a taste of real acting--and shed my shy public persona at the same time--when I took a drama class during my senior year of high school. Several good friends were taking the class with me, so I felt comfortable being myself, and as it happened being myself meant using our first assignment, in which we were to mime an action of our choice, to act as a serial killer sneaking into a house and then brutally slaughtering the invisible people inside. The class, being composed of teenagers, found this hilarious. I became the funny guy--or at least one of the funny guys, as in any drama class there's bound to be a handful of grandstanders competing for attention. Throughout the year I also became known as one of the decent actors in the class, and someone who knew what he was doing enough to be voted in as one of the co-directors for the big end-of-the-year play. I absolutely loved this new me and wanted it to last forever.

As I went into college I held onto Mr. Fob the Funny Guy, at least in classes that were small enough and I felt comfortable enough to overcome that chronic social awkwardness, but the actor and director were left behind, only to be brought out when I subjected friends to the crudely-produced Batman movie my friends and I had made in that drama class.

This past quarter, in order to fulfill the requirements of my FLAS fellowship, I took a class on Spanish Golden Age drama, and then when I heard there would be a class this quarter in which the plays we'd studied would be produced, I couldn't resist. Maybe I'd find that lost actor, maybe I'd just make a fool of myself, but for sure I'd have fun.

Today was the first day of the play production class. We held quick, impromptu auditions in class and then this evening I got a call from one of the co-directors: I'm going to play a lead role in two of the three mini-plays we're producing. I don't think the decisions were based on acting talent so much as ability to read Spanish loudly and clearly, but still I'm flattered and excited.

And so I've decided I'm going to drop out of library school and move to New York, where I will begin my career on Broadway. I'd go to Hollywood, but with the writers' strike there's not much to do there lately; my talent would go to waste.


Christian said...

Broadway strikes more often than Hollywood—orchestra musicians, stagehands, etc.

But I'll come see you.

green mormon architect said...

I also feel that same way when in unfamiliar surroundings and groups. For a 14 year old, that was a brilliant response.

Sounds like a tough decision...library school vs. Broadway - what would your stage name be?

B.G. Christensen said...

I'll just hope that Hollywood is done striking by the next time Broadway does, then make the switch. Heaven knows I'm multi-talented enough.

For my stage name I'm thinking Fobby Fobmeister, but I'll have to consult with my agent.

Th. said...


When is that Batman flick hitting the blog?

B.G. Christensen said...

Well, it is fifty minutes long. Are you saying you want to see it again?

Katya said...

If you can drop out of your MLS program to become an actor, does that mean that I can give up my baby career to become a piano tuner? (Seriously, about 18 months into my MLS degree, I realized that I'd love to be a piano tuner . . .)

B.G. Christensen said...

That depends. What kind of baby career are we talking about here? Are you producing babies to sell on the black market? And how much, curiously, do you get for each one?