For most people, the place that they feel most content and comfortable is their home. This is true for me, but my ‘home’ is not exactly a quantifiable place. For me, my home is the stage.
For as long as I can remember, everything I did or said became a ‘production’. I would experiment with facial expressions, and sometimes I would narrate – aloud – whatever I was doing.
“Slowly, and with great premonition, she unfolded her limbs from their criss-cross-applesauce position and padded deliberately across her room where she began her descent down the stairs, toward the smell that spelled uncertain dinner for the innocent girl.”
My colorful vocabulary and flair for the dramatic is what prompted my parents to search for a theatrical opportunity for me.
It came in the form of Children’s Chorus Member #7 in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at a local children’s theater. I was nothing if not enthusiastic.
And from the moment of my first performance, I felt it. It was like nothing else – a feeling of coming home.
A few years ago, I learned that I only got the part because the assistant director, who knew my mother, felt bad about her cancer and wanted to give me a chance at something to do to keep me out of the house while she underwent chemotherapy. At first, I was grievously offended. I didn’t want their charity!
But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I probably wasn’t that great of an actress at six years old. There’s more to acting than just ‘being a natural’ – it is an art, and like any art, it needs practice. Without that show, I would not have learned as much as I did about theater, or fallen in love with it like I did.
It also taught me something about people. People like to feel like they can help. It is of course important to have a certain level of pride, but if your pride gets in the way of someone trying to help with good intentions, then your pride is just as bad as the misdirected charity. That lady who knew my mom couldn’t cure her cancer, but she wanted to do something to help. As annoyed as I was that people treated me differently because they felt bad, I know now that she meant it for good, and it is childish to reject what that sympathetic woman did for us. Without it, I might have given up and never found my passion.
After years of middle school shows, my junior year I had my first real lead in a high school production. The show was I Remember Mama, and I was Mama herself. It was nerve-racking and terrifying and exhausting, but I’ve come to look upon that semester when I was involved in that play as my favorite so far in high school. I may not have gotten the greatest grades of my high school career (practice until 10 pm every night isn’t the ideal situation for doing homework), but I was doing what I loved and learning as much as I could.
And as I grabbed hands with my newfound family for bows closing night, I realized the real magic of theater – this group of kids who barely knew each other before was now an exhausted, wonderful family. After pouring our hearts and souls into our work, we realized that we can come together and create something that can really change people’s lives.
The stage is my home, and I am lucky enough to have found it. Communication is indeed everything, and the best way I know how is on the stage. So perhaps my physical living space is in my house, but my heart, soul, and ability to change the world lives on the stage. And I’ll take that over straight As any day.
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