This article is part of The Ascent Summer Program 2020

By Arthur F. Beaugard

After the conclusion of my explosive dramatic performance, I was honored with a round of thunderous applause as I scampered off the stage.

Before I was in this play, I never considered myself to be an outrageous ham who was obsessed with fame and fortune. After the play, I had already grown accustomed to this role and now entertained pipe dreams of making a name for myself in Hollywood. 

The play, which was the culmination of a year’s worth of blood, sweat, and tears (but mostly blood) in a drama class, was something that we, as a group, had been stumbling through at regular intervals for months. I initially only signed up for the class because I possessed a strong aversion to the guitar course, to the jazz course, and to the choir course, for I am, perhaps, the most musically-challenged individual I have ever met.

In the beginning, I struggled. The plot, which featured a couple of weathered sleuths hunting down some jerk who was switching around the street signs, seemed abstruse. My character, who was a guy that didn’t commit the crime but ended up admitting to littering and jaywalking out of nervousness, had a neurotic manner which it seemed I would have some difficulty replicating. The fierce and brutal nature of his emotions was challenging to play for someone as reserved as myself.

To paraphrase Dale Carnegie, education is buffoonery—there are plenty of educated fools. Intelligence is hogwash—there are plenty of educated failures. What matters—above all else—is persistence. Without persistence, man is nothing. So although the task seemed daunting,

I persisted. Every bus ride, every shower, and every night before I slumbered, I repeated my lines. I repeated them until they were not lines on a page anymore but living, breathing bursts of emotion which I uttered automatically.

At the dress rehearsal, my performance seemed forced and dreary. Many men would have given up at that moment, but I kept practicing. On the first showing of the play, I gave a highly praised performance, and I kept improving so that during the second show, I gave a performance that defied all expectations and cemented my legend in the schoolyard. The sense of accomplishment was profound and it made me enter a dream-like sweat-drenched state of deep thought. I left that school that summer, but not without my name etched into the brains of those hapless children.