Playwriting and stage smooching

Life intervenes. My acting class has been postponed to an unknown date because my teacher's mother has become seriously ill. What now? I ask myself.

Life intervenes.

My acting class has been postponed to an unknown date because my teacher’s mother has become seriously ill.

What now? I ask myself. What is the next step in this process of becoming an actor?

Am I ready to find an agent? Enrol in a new class?

Do I look for a non-acting part time job?

Do I try to find other writing gigs?

Maybe I should go home to Teslin for a visit, though I am booked to go home in June also.

In the midst of my mental conundrum of deciding what to do, my friend (and scene partner) Anthony invited me to attend a David Mamet play, Oleanna, directed by one of our other classmates.

Before the play, we went for a coffee. Anthony has become a bit of a mentor to me, though he is my brother’s age (two years younger).

Kate paired us to work on a scene from Don Nigro’s Seascape with Sharks and Dancer for a presentation night. It would be my first time performing in a theatre for the public, besides the plays and dances my friends and I staged as pre-teens in our living rooms for our parents.

Before rehearsals set in motion, Anthony said we needed to make a pact. A pact, I learned, is an actor’s boundaries.

“You can punch and hit me here,” He motioned to the fleshier parts of his arms. “My chest and my thighs are fine … hmm …”. His voice became serious. “But under no circumstance may you hit me here.” He marked an invisible boundary around his groin area.

“Oh, goodness, no.” I nodded, understanding the implications.

“You can bite and pinch, but no puncturing the skin. What else … hmmm? Do you know how to pull hair properly?”

“I have a little brother,” I giggled, and then flinched as Anthony grabbed a fistful of my hair and mimicked a yanking motion.

“See, I am not actually pulling your hair.” He tugged up and down.

Surprisingly, I am unharmed. He released my hair from his fist and I unfurled my brow.

“I think that’s all.” He scratched his head.

“What about kissing?” I asked, bashfully.

My whole life I have admired and envied actors who get to kiss one another under the imaginary circumstances of a story. Ever since I was a child and recognized the trend in popular stories—girls are princesses, boys are princes and I need rescuing.

I wanted to be kissed.

In Kindergarten at Grey Mountain Primary, we played ‘Kissy boys and Kissy girls,’ a game where boys chase girls and vice versa. If you were caught, you were kissed. I fashioned an extremely realistic (but staged) plummet into the dirt and won many kisses.

Blame Disney. I was hardwired this way.

By the age of seven, my head was pumped full of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Little Mermaid stories.

I was disappointed when I realized not all boys are princes and relationships are more complex than killing a sea witch and claiming your lover.

Girls can be bitches and princes can be toads.

Naturally, I developed a fascination with stage kisses (although, I have never been kissed on stage … yet).

“That’s another thing.” Anthony points his finger sternly. “Whatever anybody tells you, you never need to use your tongue. It’s a lie.”

“Phew … no tongue,” I said, honestly.

“We are actors. It is our job to make a kiss look believable without the tongue.”

Coming from Don Juan DeMarco of stage loving, I take this as sound advice.

After chatting a while, I tell Anthony I think I am ready to find an agent and maybe this is the perfect time considering the extended break in classes.

“You seem like you have your head in the right place,” he said, matter of factly. “It’s not that big of a thing … you can get an agent.”

I swallow my inner cynic and the impulse to shake him.

“The only thing … I suggest is to consider your craft. Sometimes actors are so trapped in the idea of getting film and TV work they forget about the growth of their craft ….” He paused.

Then his eyes beamed with enthusiasm

“You should be in a play!” he said.

Images of stage fright, bad humour, silent audiences and failure flicker rapidly through my mind.

I inhale. The first acting teacher I ever had told me I was meant to be a film and television actor.

“You are a film girl … and besides, the camera loves you!” that teacher had said with such certainty and adoration I took it as a compliment.

But now the more I think about the prospects of doing theatre the more the comment comes to mind.

What exactly did he mean?

I exhale.

“How do you find plays to perform in?”

I ask.

“Word of mouth. You just have to listen to the grapevine for casting calls.”

As we watched Mamet’s play, directed by our classmate Victor, I was far too preoccupied with Anthony’s suggestion to focus attention on the play itself.

It had nothing to do with the poor acting. I was completely absorbed by this potential new opportunity.

My awareness grew to encompass the whole theatre.

It slowly dawned on me, I was studying the audience, the small rugged venue, the stage, the dots on the back wall, the squeaking chairs, balding spots, cold air currents, a spider crawling on the floor, all while listening to the dialogue.

I was perched on my seat waiting expectantly, examining, thinking and bidding something to inspire me.

And it hit me. Theatre! There is more to it than performing.

I need to write a play!

As I sorted my thoughts, a vague memory entered my mind of an annual playwriting competition in Whitehorse. I stumbled across it on the internet a while back, but dismissed the thought because of time conflicts with my acting classes.

But, but, why not! Yes, serendipity, yes.

Later that evening, after returning home, I found the original source of my memory, Nakai’s 24-hour Playwriting Competition.

More serendipity. The dates had been pushed back from the original date.

I immediately phoned to confirm the competition date, which is to take place at the Westmark April 18-19, sent my registration form in and booked my flight home.

Hurray! I am coming home to write my first play. I can write in as many stage kisses as I want!

Doors close, others open. Opportunities fold, and new ones unfold.

Life intervenes.

Ashley Hunking grew up in Teslin.

She is now a freelance writer and

actor who lives in Vancouver.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Calvin Delwisch poses for a photo inside his DIY sauna at Marsh Lake on Feb. 18.
Yukoners turning up the heat with unique DIY sauna builds

Do-it-yourselfers say a sauna built with salvaged materials is a great winter project

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

g
Yukonomist: School competition ramps up in the Yukon

It’s common to see an upstart automaker trying to grab share from… Continue reading

The Yukon government responded to a petition calling the SCAN Act “draconian” on Feb. 19. (Yukon News file)
Yukon government accuses SCAN petitioner of mischaracterizing her eviction

A response to the Jan. 7 petition was filed to court on Feb. 19

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

The Yukon government says it is working towards finding a solution for Dawson area miners who may be impacted by City of Dawson plans and regulations. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Miner expresses frustration over town plan

Designation of claims changed to future planning

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Housing construction continues in the Whistle Bend subdivision in Whitehorse on Oct. 29, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Bureau of Statistics reports rising rents for Yukoners, falling revenues for businesses

The bureau has published several reports on the rental market and businesses affected by COVID-19

Council of Yukon First Nations grand chief Peter Johnston at the Yukon Forum in Whitehorse on Feb. 14, 2019. Johnston and Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn announced changes to the implementation of the Yukon First Nations Procurement Policy on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Third phase added to procurement policy implementation

Additional time added to prep for two provisions

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

Most Read