(byt the way, you have to read that title in a John Lovitz voice)
Scrivener has a nice post up about his opening night of Love's Labour's Lost. I was going to write a reply over there, but my response in a little more personal, so I figured I'd do it over here.
I've mentioned before that in one of my earlier incarnations, I was an actor. When I went to university the first time around, I majored in Theatre. Some of the happiest times of my life have been on stage and his post really brought a lot of that back to me.
The first time I really knew I was going to be an actor was when I was in high school and was playing Malvolio in Twelfth Night. I remember specifically that we never got very many people in the audience because the drama teacher and, lets be honest, the entire group of drama geeks never wanted to produce anything but deep and meaningful theatre. Twelfth Night was even a little light for us. Anyway, I loved that play. My epiphany came as I was on stage and I had a feeling of complete awareness. I felt that I had control over my entire body - my voice, my movement - everything. It was almost as if I were directing myself.
After one of the performances, an older man came up to me at the gladhand line and told me that I had something special and I could teach the others about how to speak on stage. I was floating.
All of that aside, now that I'm very far removed from the theatre world, I agree completely with something that Scrivener mentioned. Some of the most valuable things that came out of my time there, especially dealing with Shakespeare, was learning how to read a text. Shakespeare is hard, and there are still lines that I said hundreds of time that I'm not sure how to explain, but I learned how to dig into a text, read it out loud and try to get into the tempo of the words to tease out a subtle phrase. Whatever skill I may have today comes directly from those days.
I also remember playing in a theatre in the park production of Cyrano de Bergerac (still one of my favorites - go with the Burgess translation, not the Hooker). I missed a entrance cue because I was trying to flirt with a girl named Rose. Ah... the misspent youth...