My involvement in theater most likely started because of my father, who worked for years at Waynflete as an English teacher and theater director. In fact, there is no way I would have started in theater without him. In addition to directing Upper School plays at Waynflete, he was an actor in numerous productions and helped many theater companies in other ways. I saw some of his earlier shows, but I have little recollection of the ones in which he did not appear. I vividly remember watching him roll down a hill into a fountain of water in a rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and wanting to do something that would be as much fun.
As it turns out, I did end up doing something just as fun, auditioning one summer for the musical Titanic, my first ever production outside of the required school plays in fourth and fifth grades. As it was my first real play, I was astonished at the size of the role I’d been given and the amount of work that really went into performing it. I remember little about the process of putting it together, other than it being excruciatingly hot in the costume I had to wear, (costumes pose a recurring challenge for me) and the endless days of sitting in rows of chairs singing the entire score over and over.
When I was older, in my later years of middle school, I participated in the optional school plays. These were completely different than the musicals I had performed in outside of school, seemingly less formal but also certainly less time consuming. I found myself missing the earlier, more involved productions I’d been in, but I truly remembered so little that it was hard to tell what was memory and what were figments of my imagination.
This fall I auditioned for the Upper School production of Legally Blonde, The Musical. As a ninth grader, I didn’t really know what to expect because my previous theater experience had been so varied. I’ve always loved being on stage, or at least, I’ve never felt any sort of reluctance or anxiety when everything finally comes together and there’s an audience. However, I came into it feeling a little ambivalent, especially considering the fact that it had been quite some time since I’d last been in any kind of musical. I soon found myself exhausted. Even before the late nights of the actual performances, we had been getting home at six every night. That was a lot on top of school, other co-curricular activities, and homework. I certainly would not recommend this type of adventure for anyone not prepared for all the late nights and work.
However, the experience also turned out to be wonderful and truly rewarding. Highlights for me were making new friends by working closely with an ensemble of students whom I wouldn’t otherwise have known, having the spirit-lifting experience of performing before three packed houses, and pushing myself way outside of my comfort level to perform the role I was assigned. I am looking forward to being backstage on the crew for the winter play, Rimers of Eldritch, and hopefully getting back on stage soon after that.