I fell in love with the theatre from the audience of a middle school play at the age of six. When an aristocrat berated a servant girl for dropping a tray of oranges, I jumped from my seat and rushed on stage to help her collect the fruit. She whispered, “I’m supposed to drop them” and I understood at once the power and beauty of active storytelling.
I’ve been acting ever since, school plays, summer camp, college. After I graduated from Portland State, I landed a major role in a film called Birds of Neptune. I honestly had no interest in working on film. I like the energy of an audience. The heavy curtains and fog machines, dressing rooms and catwalks, dramatic lighting, and all the tension and release inherent in live performance. But this film audition asked actors to write their own monologues from the perspective of someone they are close with. I was very intrigued by this. I auditioned and soon accepted the role of Rachel’s eccentric older sister, Mona.
When i’m feeling sentimental, my favorite metaphor is that acting is immortality. What a glorious shame to exist in such a massive world, but to live and die in one small pocket, experiencing life only one way with one set of interests, habits and morals. Acting allows you to explore new points of view and offers the chance to as a queen, a murderer, a cowgirl, a nun, whatever. In this way you live many lives.
Mona was a very special character to me because she was created as an amalgam of many
women I’ve encountered in my life. The developmental process took nearly a year’s time and when we finally wrapped principal photography, I felt grateful that the character we created wouldn’t disappear into nothing on closing night as would have been the case with a live performance.
And so I fell in love again, this time with film. Acting on film is similar to the theatre, but certainly not the same. You don’t have to project your voice to the back row balcony, and the slightest expression on your face can be seen clearly, so everything is smaller. You don’t go through the entire show every night, you do one scene, one shot at a time, often out of order BUT so long as the sound is clean and the lighting is perfect, you only have to get it right once. No applause. No bow. No roses. Just good, clean, moment to moment acting. When the film is finished it will stand unchanged forever as some kind of creative time capsule. My children, should I choose to bring them into this world, will be able to watch Birds of Neptune (if they aren’t weird about nudity) and see their mother at 25 doing what she loved best, playing pretend.
-Molly Elizabeth Parker