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The Actress

By Anonymous

She was no one. She was everyone. She was who you wanted her to be.

Some people have real lives, and other pretend to have one. It hadn’t taken her long to figure out that she definitely belonged to the second category. Her entire life consisted of her slipping into various roles, acting out the feelings and emotions felt by each part. And she did it well, oh yes. She was so good at it that she no longer remembered how not to act, and every time something happened in her life that needed a reaction from her, she had to decide which of her many roles she was going to don. Everyone she met in life was subjected to a sample of the finest acting that was the culmination of twenty years of ceaseless practice.

Every artist needed a stage. And she had made the world hers, like an old poet had once suggested. And her audiences were the people she loved, the people she could not live without. The same people, incidentally, who would walk out of the hall at the slightest hint of a boring script. Her greatest fear was playing to an empty hall. She was constantly terrified that the play she was acting was not engrossing enough, that her audience had better things to do, better places to be. And so she was always looking for flaws in herself, for things that she could correct to become the perfect creation of God . She had long ago decided that her feelings, such as they were, were immaterial. Did the actor who played Othello tell the audience what he thought of Shakespeare? No, he only told them what Othello felt. He must become Othello, or he is just another man, not an actor. The only difference was that, if she didn’t become whatever part she was playing, she was not just another woman, she was nobody. 

But what terrified her the most was that one day, she would be taken off her stage, that she would be forced to remove the myriad masks and layers of makeup that had kept her safely hidden, and then you would find a colourless, bleached canvas; a still doll. She was nothing if you took her off the stage. And because she could not let that happen, she poured in her life-force into her acting. There were days when she revelled in it, and there were days when every word, every action was a superhuman effort.

Yet, she thought, it was all worth it in the end. The applause was addictive, intoxicating. And so she continued playing, in spite of her terror, in spite of all that it cost her. For she was, first and foremost, the consummate actress.


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