I will never forget the day when I participated in the school play for the first and the last time in my life. It was the production of Alice in Wonderland and I was selected to play the Pigeon, the one who took Alice for serpent. I remember having deep-hidden illusions about my actress talent and decided that this was a great chance to reveal that talent of mine. I took the role very seriously and even crafted my own costume. I picked a very soft furry heather-grey fabric and sewed a kind of vest. My father helped me to make a wire framework for the wings and I cut many long pieces from the same length of the fabric. It felt so calming and inspirational to sew those pieces to the framework imagining how gorgeous I will look wearing such realistic wings. I also did my best to memorize my lines. I would stand in front of my mirror for hours looking at how my mouth was articulating the sounds of the pigeons words. According to the best recommendations I imagined myself to be a real pigeon. I imagined how upset I might get if my own eggs, so warm and sweet-smelling, were stolen and lost forever! I would also wear my wings for hours trying to understand as much as it is possible at all what it is like to be a bird. I even tried to eat my cereal without using my hands!
On the day of performance I was not even nervous much. Every smallest detail is still very clear in my memory although many years have passed since that time. The assembly hall where the performance was supposed to be given was full of parents and other students who were not participating in the act. Everything went well until Clair, my pretty classmate who was playing Alice, said that little girls eat eggs as much as serpents do. At that moment according to the screenplay, I had to spread my wings and was about to say my next line when all of a sudden my Dad rose from his seat in the audience and started to make pictures of me with my wings spread beautifully. I totally lost my concentration and forgot my line! It was very simple: You're looking for eggs, I know THAT well enough; and what does it matter to me whether you're a little girl or a serpent?' but I got completely lost and just stood there in utter shock with my wings still spread. I remember trying not to look at the audience and the pattern of the wooden stage floor is still very clear in my memory. It tasted like a dead rat in my mouth because of panic. I also remember Clair trying to whisper my lines to me. She leaned closer and I felt her tickling curls touching my neck as well as her smell of apricots and hair spray. However, I was so devastated by the fact that despite all my preparations the play proved to be a failure because of me that I just looked at her blankly and then ran away. I was so humiliated! My Dad said that hardly anyone had even noticed but I knew he just wanted to comfort me. I still feel horrible about it anyway.
This story made a tremendous influence on my future behavior and even personality. The shock I felt when the line just disappeared from my head is still very fresh and sharp so that any thought of public speaking makes my knees weak and my mouth dry. Surprisingly, we are still friends with Clair but she is forbidden to mention this story in my presence.
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