Podcast: the homecoming event

 
Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
Back in my schooldays, there were required curricula specifically for  the homecoming event. Students must participate in either an exhibition,  retail, or a play. I chose a play every homecoming when I was a junior  high school student. When the homecoming’s preparation began in my ninth  grade, my passion for the theater was at its peak since I had been  regularly cast for a major role in the drama club at school. Other  students knew that and I was appointed as the ninth-grade play team  leader almost automatically. Everyone had no interest in a required  curriculum and I had to put together a play by leading fifty unwilling,  reluctant team members. From the first meeting, I encountered  foreseeable difficulties. No one brought up any suggestion of what play  we would show at the homecoming. When I uttered a Japanese classic  novel, they unanimously shouted, “That’s it! That’ll be our play!” in  order to finish the meeting quickly. Our play was decided like this and I  dramatized the novel for the first time in my life. I had thought it  would be difficult, but it was unexpectedly so much fun. I finished the  script quite fast. And then, the casting. I had decided not to be cast  in the play myself because I had been already cast in a play of the  drama club for the homecoming. I didn’t want to appear in every play at  school like an attention freak. I thought it was cool that I produced,  dramatized and directed for this curriculum play. But in the team,  everyone had neither experience nor skill in acting and they didn’t want  to be cast. It was again left to my sole decision. While I was choosing  some students who seemed to like appearing on the stage, a girl timidly  raised her hand. She said she wanted to act. Although I finally got a  volunteer, I hesitated to cast her for a moment. She was not pretty.  Other students started giggling at her brave attempt. Instantly I came  to myself and remembered the fact that I was also regarded as an ugly  girl at school. My bad looks contributed to continuous typecasting as an  old, wicked woman in drama club’s plays. As I had been weary of  disadvantage of appearance, I cast her as a leading role. My decision  made other students gape. Thus, I had trying three months for the play  with totally amateur actors and backstage staff…

Podcast: When I killed her

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
My long-awaited first appearance on the stage drew unwelcome laughter in the school play but I had been absorbed in my role as an evil stepmother too much to care about the audience’s wrong response. A hush fell over them quickly and tension of the play was conveyed to them as the play went on. They even screamed in the scene that I slapped hard the heroine on the cheek. When I killed her near the end, I heard them raise an outcry. The play was a big success.
It was part of entertainment in a welcome assembly for new students. Since the school had both the junior high and the high school, the drama club had two performances on that day for each school. While I was cast in both performances, the heroine was double-cast. My favorite senior member of the club played it in the first performance and every scene with her went so well probably because chemistry between us was right. Especially when I slapped her, it produced an ideal loud whack. Miss Fujiwara, who had snatched a role away from me months before, was the heroine for the second performance. She asked me to slap her just as I did to another heroine. She was envious of the dramatic scene we had created. Unfortunately, she overacted the scene and my slapping made a dull thud. I knew it would go that way considering our bad chemistry. Or maybe my hand hit her too hard by carrying my bad feelings toward her.
After the play, the teacher in charge of the drama club ran up to me and proudly proclaimed, “A star is born!” He introduced me to his colleagues as a new star in the drama club. I gained a weird celebrity status at school. Every time students spotted me, they would shout abuse at me for what I had done in the play, or they would try to avoid me because they were scared of me. It seemed I acted the role so well that they believed I was a naturally vicious person off the stage.

Podcast: my first ever appearance

Audiobook 1 : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Audiobook 2 : My Social Distancing and Naked Spa in Japan by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. 
Apple Books, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total. 
 
 
As the school play of the drama club approached, I had prepared for my first role vigorously. Once I remembered all the lines, acting itself actually felt much easier than the backstage work I had done for three years.
The difficult part was timing for some action. In one scene, I threw a bowl at the heroine but she had to show her back to me when it happened. I sat with my back to her and couldn’t see her positions. We made the sound of her knees tapping the stage floor a signal that she had turned her back to me. Because the sound was so subtle, I was afraid of missing it.
Near the end of the play, an evil stepmother, who was played by me, killed a heroine with a poker. It was a custom of the club that the club members would visit a shrine together to pray for safety before the play if it had a murder scene. We did that after school, with me standing right in front of the altar because I was the murderer. Now, I had everything ready for my first play, and the day had come.
Since it was a Japanese period play, I had borrowed kimono from my grandmother as my costume. My role was an old woman and I drew lines on my face and sprinkled talcum powder over my hair. While I was waiting for the play to start in the wings, I got tensed up and my hands began to tremble. There’s an old trick in Japanese show business, that tracing a Chinese character that means ‘human’ on a palm with a finger three times and pretending to swallow it removes tension when you’re nervous. I threw myself on the trick but it didn’t work at all. Suddenly I lost self-confidence and told one of the juniors that I was so nervous. Although she would also appear in the play as a bit part, she was surprisingly calm. She suggested the trick placidly and said that she couldn’t help me because she had never been nervous in her entire life. As I doubted if she was a human being, the play started.
Following a heroine’s monologue, the curtain was raised and I was standing in the center of the stage. The unexpected happened: before I uttered a word, the hall got engulfed in an explosion of laughter. The audience burst out laughing at the scene in which a stumpy girl was standing with old makeup. Although the play was a serious drama, my first ever appearance was laughed away…
 

Podcast: my first role

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps.  Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
At long last, I got my first role in a school play at the drama club when I was a freshman in high school. It took me three years to get it as a member of the club. Since many senior members had quit for some reason and I had been in a higher position by then for casting that had the seniority system, my role was quite big.
It was a villain in a Japanese period drama, who tormented her pretty stepdaughter and killed her. I was the evil stepmother of a heroine, which was played by the same Miss Fujiwara who had taken a role away from me by one vote in the last play. My mistake of not voting for myself made her one step senior to me and yielded bigger consequences as time went on. Now she was a heroine and I was a wicked old woman.
Nonetheless, I was absorbed in interpretation and rehearsals now that I got what I had been craving for three years. I tried to think and live like an evil person for the interpretation every day. Acting evil was easy for me: I’m used to picking on my little sister and besides, an object of my bullying was Miss Fujiwara. Hatred toward her was naturally transfused into my acting and I blew off steam by yelling at her, hitting her and killing her on the stage in every rehearsal.
The retired senior members of the club sometimes came to observe rehearsals. My character went mad in the end of the play and it was going to be told by the narration. They admired my acting and suggested adding the scene for me instead of the narration. I was so honored and acted the madness intensely when they wanted me to try. While I was satisfied with my acting, the scene was cut and back to the narration. Probably I overacted it and was too distasteful to watch…

Podcast: the casting

 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total  
 
After two and a half years of training and backstage work in the drama club at junior high, I was close to getting a role in a school play. Casting was done strictly by seniority, not by acting skill. A leading role automatically went to the club captain and the higher grade at school a member was in, the better role she got. The club was a joint activity of the high school and the junior high. I was already in the ninth grade and many senior members at high school either graduated or quit.
As a result, I rose to a candidate for the last bit part that had only two lines. The part was normally to go to Miss Fujiwara who was a freshman at high school and so one year senior to me. But since she joined the club at the same time as I did and our careers were equal, the bit part came down to either her, or me. It was put to a vote. Everyone knew my acting skill was much better than hers, and the choice was actually between seniority and skill. All members including she and I sat with a face hiding in the arms on the desk and eyes closed. The club captain stood in front of the blackboard on which our names were written. When she read out a name, we raised a hand for the name of our choice, and she counted the vote. Although I craved the role, I raised my hand when Miss Fujiwara’s name was called out for two reasons. While we wouldn’t know who voted whom, the club captain would know. I wanted her to recognize how much I respected seniority and I was thus a good member. And also, I had a trauma that my mother never allowed to vote someone else but myself and people laughed at me when I got one vote by myself in every election at elementary school.
The result was exactly tied. The captain declared the second vote, which meant the part would be mine if I voted for myself this time. Switching a vote seemed so shameless, though. I had never been in a tight corner like that. I raised my trembling hand for Miss Fujiwara. I heard one of the names being erased on the blackboard and when I opened my eyes, I saw my name gone. Miss Fujiwara got the role. Right away, an enormous feeling of regret came over me. I went home shivering, realizing I had made a huge, irretrievable mistake.

Podcast: An Ugly Girl in The Drama Club 3

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
When my role in a drama club at junior high was still lower backstage work, I was assigned to give the cast members a cue on one school play. I needed to cue them in the dressing room when the show before us was about to end. I counted down from forty minutes before the cue to make their preparation easier by watching the current show in the wings. The stage was far from the dressing room and I had to go back and forth between them to tell them the time left.
For that play, the heroin put on makeup and got dressed so slowly, and I felt sure our play couldn’t start on time. I rushed her while reporting the progress of the show before us by running laps between the stage and the dressing room. But as I had feared, she couldn’t make it. The previous show had ended, the audience was waiting, and she remained wigless. Those who helped her dress got hysterical and began to take it out on me who kept on cueing. Back in the wings, the teacher in charge of the school event stormed at me. We had to start without her and I asked other cast members to prolong the opening scene by improvising. They got panicky and complained to me. Eventually, everyone yelled at me who was just a cue person. While they were desperately improvising the play on the stage, I took her from the dressing room plowing through the people on the crowded hallway for her.
Then I had gradually promoted to the higher backstage work play by play. As the curtain drawer, I needed to learn how to draw the heavy main curtain smoothly by tugging a thick twined rope. If it opened or closed in several separate movements according to my tugging, I would get reproved. The curtain was used frequently to shift scenes and drawing it seamlessly was such a tough job. As a prompter, I was pointed out that my prompts were too loud. Then as the stage lighting, I needed to get the knack to create a blackout on the stage by turning numerous switches off in one quick sweep by my hands. The switches were too many and big, so I had to hold my breath and put my whole weight on my stretched hands to slide them all.
All those years, I didn’t quit because I really wanted to be cast and play on the stage some day. It must have been a strong aspiration as I spent full three years just training and working backstage…

Podcast: An Ugly Girl in The Drama Club 2

Photo by Ruca Souza on Pexels.com
 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
The drama club to which I belonged when I was a junior high school student had two school plays a year, for the homecoming entertainment and for the welcoming-new-students assembly. The casting would be done by a seniority system. A handful of senior members appeared on the stage and other members worked backstage.
New members usually started from the stage props staff, then were promoted to the scene shifter, the spotlighting, the curtain drawer/prompter, the stage lighting, and finally, the cast member. My fellow five new comers had quit within a year because they couldn’t take this slow promotion toward cast members, and I was the only one left among those who joined that year. Since there were so many members who were one year my senior, it seemed the day I would be cast in a play would never come in this seniority system. But once I begin something, I don’t quit easily.
When the twice-a-year school play came near, I would work eagerly backstage while seeing some senior cast members whose acting were much worse than mine rehearse on the stage. I started as the stage props staff. The first play I took part in was a Japanese drama. Some cast members had trouble putting on Japanese sandals very quickly when they stormed out of the room in one scene and complained to us. From then on I had stretched their sandals carefully before the scene for the cast members to put them on quickly. As the spotlighting, I learned to move a spotlight just as the cast member moved on stage and to keep the light above her chest all the time. Every once in a while in rehearsal, I made a mistake to follow the cast’s quick movement and my light missed the position slightly. In that case, the play would come to an instant halt and everyone turned to me. I would stand straight beside the spotlight and yell “I’m so sorry!” to the whole production.
 

Podcast: An Ugly Girl in The Drama Club 1

Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com
 
Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total 
 
 I was a member of the drama club at junior high school. There were almost 100 new comers when I first joined it in the seventh grade, but only six remained including me after a month because of sober training that was far from the stage glamor. We did voice and physical exercises every day to develop our abdominal muscles.
In the end of the exercises, the members would stand side by side and utter a loud and long tone one by one in front of the club captain. While we were squeezing ‘Ahhhh’, a senior member would put a hand on our shoulder to see if it rose. If we were doing abdominal breathing, our shoulders didn’t rise. The club captain would time the length of the tone and check whether it wavered or not. A loud, long, steady voice was good and I was the one who always uttered the loudest, longest, steadiest ‘Ahhhh’ without raising my shoulders. While the club captain corrected each member, in my turn she would say “Nothing to be corrected” to me. That made me so happy and I practiced diligently back at home too, to hear her say that every time.
Gradually, I had tougher training at the club such as tongue twisters, short dialogues and pantomime. For some reason, I was good at those and had a good word from the captain each time. I began to think I might have a talent for acting. Secretly I took pleasure in picturing myself on the stage of a school play. A sad fact was, I was a fat and short girl. Even with the ability to act well, things wouldn’t go so smoothly for an ugly girl like me in the theater. But back then, I was too young and innocent to realize that. I just kept on striving and improving only my acting without caring about my bad looks…