Rosalie Ham | I’m with Stanislavski — Rosalie Ham
October 31, 2014
by Rosalie Ham

I’m with Stanislavski

In my early twenties, I clung to a handsome boy on a motorcycle all the way from San Francisco to Houston, Texas, then to to Buenos Aires … and many more cities, though not always on the motorbike.

What do you dream of doing?

Years later, suffering a broken heart and no identifiable, prospective, rewarding career, I strolled into a careers advisory centre and someone’s mother gave me the advice that has brought me to this blog. I told the perspicacious advisor that I was at the crossroads of my life – lost, in fact. ‘What do you dream of doing?’ she asked.

‘I secretly long to be a brilliant actress.’ Her face shone. ‘Drama teaching!’

I had the time of my life at Uni. With about 20 other (much younger) students I did warm-up exercises and improvised for hours and experimented with role-playing and characterization and stage makeup and mime and I hung lights and made costumes and read Peter Brook and analysed many plays and monologues and I watched happy, clever people metamorphose – some horribly when they weren’t handed a lead role – and it was all very cathartic, thus I was emptied of all desire to become a Leading Lady.

I will be required to do some acting.

My Bachelor of Education sees me happily employed teaching Literature and I act like I know what I’m doing all day. And now … the years honing skills in the chorus or waiting to enter and deliver my line will not be wasted.

As an extra in the film (of my first novel The Dressmaker – have I mentioned that?) I will be required to do some acting. I might have to pause at tinned beans behind Gertrude, or convey ‘repelled’ when Molly wheels past, or perhaps I’ll depict envy when Gertrude appears in a Tilly creation at the Dungatar Footballers Ball.

I can play ANYTHING, really, since I know the story backwards. And forwards, sideways …

And as I have mentioned, I’ve survived broken hearts and airport queues and passed triumphantly through life’s crossroads and I know death – I worked in aged care for 20 years – so JOCELYN, if you’re reading this, I want you to know that I’m with Stanislavski.

I will use my ‘emotional memory to focus internally to portray my character’s emotions, to control in performance the most intangible and uncontrollable aspects of human behaviour’