Dear Theater,

Dear Theater,

Tonight will be my 9th and final performance of a show I hold very dear to my heart. This show I know will go well beyond my time in it, but I have been thinking of you and how important you’ve been to my life since I was a pre-teen.

I fell head over heels in love with you when I saw the Lion King in New York at the age of 12. I had known a little about theater, seen some community shows, but that was the first time I saw the absolute magic of a live performance. I saw a few shows here and there until high school, where  I got involved with the Arlington Children’s Theater as part of their run crew. I was only ever there for the last 2 weeks of a show. I loved knowing I was seeing the show come together. I loved knowing that though my role felt small I knew that if I didn’t get the set pieces moved to just the right space it would throw off all the actors. They might not see it, but I knew I was important.

That is one of the biggest lessons you taught me, theater, that all of us are important. From director to actors to set crew and every role you could think of, we all mattered. We either succeeded together or failed together. I’ve watched, been a part of, or performed in 40+ shows in my life since that first time seeing the Lion King. Yet for the longest time my role was only as spectator.

When I came to my college I came to every single show even if I didn’t think I’d like it simply because it was theater. Then my sophomore year, they had the biannual Directors course, their final project was to direct a short scene. I auditioned on a whim figuring at best I would get a small non speaking role, which I did as a robot. Until another scene’s main actress dropped out at the last minute. I was asked to fill in. I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I pulled off an okay performance. I didn’t think I’d ever do it again.

But then junior year came and on a whim I auditioned for the musical and senior year I took an acting class. The acting class was the first time I got it in my head that theater people weren’t exceptional. Sure there were and are people with natural talent for the stage, but we all need help. If you have a body and some imagination you can probably act. I learned how to use my movement, my voice, and character to be something on the stage.

Finally we come to this show, that has without a doubt changed my life. I heard that a bunch of woman were going to gather and share in story circles and create a show. I can honestly say that God brought me into those circles. I just felt this intense feeling that I must be a part of this, and somehow with courage and the encouragement of the women around me I said I would not only help to create this show, but be in the show.

Mere hours from my 9th and final performance I am so thankful to you theater.

Thank you, for showing me that stories unfolding on stage is magic.

Thank you for taking me in with open arms when I was too shy to even look at the stage.

Thank you for giving me a role within shows for years as run crew.

Thank you for helping me to see that I have a voice that is worth hearing.

Thank you for showing me that projection is something even soft spoken people are capable of.

Thank you for showing me that I can be the magic too, and that this magic can cause change.

Thank you for helping me to be confident being totally vulnerable and ridiculous.

Thank you for carving out space for me when I couldn’t see myself as an actor.

Thank you for helping me to see the difference between an actor and someone who’s not is the who gets up on stage.

Thank you, because even if all I ever do is watch shows in the future, I will never forget the lessons you’ve taught me.

Much love and affection,

Juanita

*the image is of the inside of the Boston Opera House taken from their website (Fun Fact: I’ve seen A Chorus Line and Cinderella there).

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