The autumn when I was in Grade 3, the whole four classes of Grade 3 presented a play based on the famous folktale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” at the annual school art festival. Being fond of acting in front of other people, I auditioned and got the role for one of the weavers. In the original story, there were only two weavers, but in our play, there were four of us, one from each class.
I was so into this role. I eagerly practiced my lines every evening at home, and while I was practicing, my mother would come by and give me some comments and suggestions. One evening, she suggested that I should smile more broadly and more deceivingly.
“You must remember that this is a weaver who is trying to deceive the King,” she told me. “Don’t just smile. Think about what kind of smile would convince the King to believe your words.”
From that day on, I started to smile like a Cheshire cat on stage, rubbing my hands together in front of my chest, trying to look like the weaver in the story. I also paid a special attention to the way I operated the mock loom on stage. The wooden loom was made by our talented school technician, and there was one loose block of wood placed at the bottom of the loom, and when I pedaled on it, it made a sound that in my imagination sounded like a real loom. So, even when the other three weavers were resting, I would keenly pedal on the wood block, trying to look like I was weaving the cloth for real.
One line that I still remember from that play is the scene when one of the King’s subordinates got impressed by the invisible clothes and tried to touch it. This was the only time I was supposed to panic and forget the deceiving smile.
“You must not touch it!” I jumped out in front of the subordinate to prevent him from touching the non-existent clothes. “Not a single dust is allowed on it, you see!”
When our play was over and I walked back to my audience seat, one of my close teachers came running with an excited look on her face.
“You really nailed that role!” She said, patting my back. “Your deceiving smile was amazing! You were completely living that weaver throughout the play – you didn’t break it even for a second. What an amazing job! Well done!”
Her passionate comment made me smile with satisfaction. Thinking back on my practice at home, my smile became even wider.