Look, I didn’t want things to come to this. I’ve dabbled in the performing arts since my formative years, from proudly playing the role of Kid #1 in my kindergarten performance of The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe (highlights include my singular line, “Hi Mom!”), to discovering my propensity to be cast as crotchety old men (the gender crisis is going fine, thanks for asking). The acting bug bit me early and has solidly entrenched itself into my very thoughts and dreams. I was initiated into the secrets of the profession and was taught never to speak the name of the Scottish Play or touch the props of another, but despite the love I feel for my fellow actors, I can stay silent no more: These thespians can’t read!
What I thought was a carefully-guarded secret among the profession has been unceremoniously dropped amid the general public, in no small part because — actually, entirely thanks to Lea Michele. Does someone want to tell me why we still care about Rachel Berry in the year of our Lord 2022? You’d think that the racism allegations, or even that god awful Christmas album, would have been enough to collectively convince us to avert our eyes from such an imminent trainwreck.
But beyond Michele’s shortcomings as a human being — and really, I could have lived a hundred years alone with only my thoughts and a broken Rubik’s cube without knowing that Jonathan Groff has had carnal knowledge of her body, “as friends” — I had hoped that she would have enough respect for her colleagues not to expose them in so public and obvious a manner. When you make funny sounds and faces for a living, you need all the dignity you can get. The beans have been spilled, their secret’s out, and it suddenly makes sense why every actor’s signature on your Playbill is utterly unreadable, and how it takes anyone forever to memorize even the shortest line. Visual learning was never in the cards.
Does illiteracy choose the actor, or might the actor choose illiteracy? In my case, I was approached in my sleep by the spirit of Shakespeare himself after the opening night (which was incidentally also the closing night) of my eighth-grade production of James and the Giant Peach, in which I played the titular fruit. I felt his ghostly fingers reach into the crevices of my mind and carefully pluck away any connection to the written word. It was like eating from the Tree of Knowledge, except the opposite — and I didn’t even get to use free will! How am I writing this, you might add? Joke’s on you: I am dictating to an Amazon Echo synced up to another Echo that reads this back to me to ensure coherence. It works great! I definitely don’t regret throwing away any hope of normal employment. I love not knowing how to read. I’m doing so well. Disguise they’ll him it — no, Alexa, that’s not what I said, I meant the sky’s — agh, just forget about it.
Has my college experience been tainted by such a gaping void in my academic capabilities? Uh, I guess. I’ve never been able to consult any Blackboard ressources, and I have to take exams in front of a note-taker who transcribes my answers. Sometimes I get lucky and professors will put images on their slides, but most of the time I’m free-falling with only the powers of imagination and memory to cushion my descent. I got excused from WRTG 105, as is customary for all Theatre majors, and everyone who scores above a 6 on the Buzzfeed “How Well Do You Know Your Broadway Divas?” quiz. It’s fine. I’m fine.
In a way, maybe I should be grateful to Real Life Rachel Berry for spilling our most treasured secret. Perhaps she was under the influence of the finest snow New York has to offer when it was wrenched out of her, and it’s not like she can proofread interviews before they come out. At least now I won’t have to keep finding excuses for why my friends are only allowed to call me, or why I still have no idea what and where Harkness Hall is.
So what, I can’t read? I don’t miss books, I don’t miss knowing anything about current events, and I certainly don’t miss Twitter. If the world ends, I’ll be none the wiser, and you can pry my Illustrated Encyclopedia out of my cold, withered little hands.