The Wide Angle: Behold! The sun god and his arrows of immaturity

Published 8:02 pm Monday, June 17, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

I’m not entirely sure how we got on the topic, but the other day the entire newsroom — all two of us — began talking about thespian pursuits. Specifically, my theater pursuits in high school.

The quick background — I was a part of a few productions with our high school drama club and a couple with our community players.

Now, it should be said from the outset, that I was terrible. I defined the stereotypically wooden performance lampooned so many times on TV. Standing stock straight, flaying the arms every so often and staring doe-eyed into the crowd as if they were a dozen vehicles speeding toward me.

Email newsletter signup

Still, I performed and was passable as far as our standards allowed, whatever they were. However, while my statue-like performances were fun in their own way, few really shone through more than the performance of a life-time in our high school English literature class.

Some more background if you will permit. Each year in this specific class, the students would perform a play based on some classic literature.

There are too many years between now and then to remember if it was the same piece year after year or if it was changed up. All I know for sure is that our selection was Homer’s “The Iliad” and I played Apollo.

It’s not every day you get to boast playing a god in an English class play that no doubt was butchered beyond a reasonable doubt. Naturally, I don’t really remember how it came out, but I do know — if I may be so bold to brag — my performance was on fire and it’s here I have to give our teacher props for being so bold as to hand a high school kid, who was kind of a screw-off at times, a bow and arrows.

It was an act of bravery that was so profound as to really set the tone for a production that would go down in history as the most dangerous English class ever.

For those not in the know, or maybe not familiar with “The Iliad,” Apollo, at the behest of Chryses who was angered that Agamemnon took her daughter, joined the side of the Trojans and with his silver bow, shot plague arrows down upon the Greeks.

Upon being handed the bow, I at first thought that I would simply be mimicking the god’s wrath; maybe pull the bow and let it “thum” for the sake of theatrical spectacle. But then why hand me the arrows at the same time?

And then it was explained to me by a very stern-faced English teacher that I was to lob arrows over the players already on the field. High arcs and well over my peers, who were looking at me with something akin to skepticism and maybe more than a little concern.

Maybe it was the fact that the weapon had been placed into my hands. Maybe it was the gleam I no doubt had in my eyes or maybe it was the god-complex I was literally asked to play. Probably, it was a combination of all the above.

Throughout practice on our cramped high school stage, I dutifully rained plague over the heads of my classmates with glee, striking a pose I hope represented the mighty sun-god Apollo. I wanted to do him proud after all.

However, after successive takes, I grew bored of shooting arrows in lazy arcs against the curtain of the stage, which I can say from experience is a dangerous thing to ask now that you have a vague idea of how I was in high school.

I’m not sure when the fateful decision was made to do what I did next. Had it been there all along? Had it been there suddenly as a spur of the moment type of thing?

As we started our last scene rehearsal of the hour, I began my godly killing spree once again, laughing down at all the mortals playing at life before me. Had you been watching from the gym floor, as our teacher was no doubt doing, you would have seen the following.

Arcing arrow, arcing arrow, arcing arrow, arcing arrow, streaking arrow, arcing arrow, arcing arrow.

I decided that with the curtain there to softly stop the shot, I pulled back with all of my spindly might and hurled a plague arrow with such strength as to zip across the field of battle. The flight of the arrow was beautiful and … now stuck in the curtain. I pondered this for a while, amazed that I hadn’t been caught (god), but also worried somewhat that I was now an arrow short because it was stuck in the curtain at a goodly height. Ladder height shall we say.

Me and another classmate snuck around the back of the curtains and with an assortment of tools tried swatting it down or waving the curtain to a point that would shake it loose.

I’m guessing we also threw some stuff at it, all to no avail until finally, with panic setting in, the arrow fell to the stage floor. My fleet, god-like self picked up the arrow and fled to the other side of the field where I committed to the best acting of my life. Nothing weird involving a bow and arrow here.

I’ll take that A now.