Five Lessons I Learned From Being Involved In Theater

Five Lessons I Learned From Being Involved In Theater

Theater produces more than plays.

I have been involved in small elementary productions and larger scale junior high school shows. I was lucky enough to attend an elementary school that held everyone from kindergarten to grade eight. This school has one of the most amazing theater programs for grades five through eight. This theater company produced high school caliber productions in an elementary school. We had professional-level sets, costumes, and overall shows. I was lucky enough to be a part of this program for four years. When I went off to high school I did not end up becoming involved in that theater program, and that is my biggest regret now that I have graduated. My junior and senior years my friends and I went back to this theater company to assist our former director in two of her shows. The experiences from both onstage and off have taught me some valuable lessons.

1. Flexibility/Improvisation

One lesson I learned both onstage and backstage is flexibility and improvisation. Nothing ever goes as planned, and you need to adapt fast because the show does not stop. If someone forgets to say a line or does not bring out a prop, you cannot freak out onstage, you have to keep going and not let there be any dead space. If stage crew gives you a new prop to use or you need to fill in for a sick cast mate, you have to be willing to step up to the task. If a lead becomes ill, someone has to be willing to step in for them.

This also applied backstage because every night did not go exactly the same. I remember when I was in "Beauty and the Beast," there was a night when none of the flatware went onstage for “Be Our Guest.” Those who were already onstage had to just go for it, sing loudly, and do the best they could. You have to be able to adapt to changes because chances are each night will not be perfect. Backdrops could get stuck, microphones may stop working on stage, props may break, but you have to put on the best show possible anyways.

2. Trust

At the end of the day, you need to be able to trust your cast mates. Each of you has a job to do and you are responsible for doing that job. You can not worry about someone else’s job; rather, you need to have faith that they will be focused and will perform to the best of their abilities. You need to know where you need to be and when you need to be there, and you need to trust that you cast mates will know the same for them. While I was working backstage in a junior production last year, I overheard some of the younger kids frantically looking for someone about to go on. One of the leads turned around and simply said, “She will be here.” This young actor demonstrated that trust that you need to have in your cast mates. A sense of trust amongst a cast leads to the cohesion needed to put on a fantastic show.

3. Teamwork

Theater includes working with a myriad of people, and there is always the chance of having to work with someone who you do not particularly like. You need to remember that you each joined the show with the common goal of putting on a fabulous production. All differences must be put aside in order to allow the show be a success. You need to be able to work with not only cast mates, but also the tech crew and director. You should be capable of leaving all differences or grudges at the door. When you step into rehearsal or the show, you become your character. If you cannot work well with others, the cast will become detached and the show will not come together.

Generally by the end of a production the cast is more than a team - they become a family. Before each show my theater company would play Pass The Pulse in a circle, sing "Amazing Grace" (still holding hands), and then our director would say a prayer for the cast and crew. The key to an amazing show is a cohesive cast and crew. One of the most amazing byproducts of theater is the bonds formed within the cast and crew. You have the opportunity to meet some of the best people in your life, and it would be a shame if that was missed.

4. Acceptance

This goes hand-in-hand with teamwork. You need to accept differences amongst your cast mates in order to be able to work with them successfully. Theater is diverse, meaning it contains people of all races, genders, ages, and sexualities. Being a part of this program showed me how different people can come together. This year I was a peer tutor and when the eight-year-old girl I was tutoring laughed that a boy would want to be in a play, I was taken aback. I forgot that at her age it seemed a little weird. Theater does not have a gender or a sexuality. It is open to everyone. It was nice to be exposed to this at a young age.

5. Time Commitment

In order to put on a fantastic performance, you need to rehearse. This does not mean simply showing up to the weekly rehearsals. You need to put the time in at home to learn your songs and your lines or you will look foolish at rehearsals. You need to show up to all of the rehearsals because you will miss something important. It could be a dance number, or blocking a scene. You need to be there for it all because the director will not reteach it just for you. Also, if you miss too many rehearsals, there is a chance the director will cut you from the show. When you are considering skipping a rehearsal, think about your director. They spend their entire life for a good chunk of the school year on this show. Think about the amount of time you have put in and multiply it by ten. They are blocking numbers at home in their spare time, they are out shopping or making costumes and they are staying after rehearsal three hours later to work on the set. They come in on school vacations to put the finishing touches on. They work their butts off to make you look good. When you get a standing ovation, it is because of the work that they put into the production. You are only putting in a fraction of the work that your director and stage crew put in.

The night before one of the morning shows that I worked on for stage crew, we were at the school until 11:30 p.m., and back at the school at 6:50 a.m. the next morning to make sure the set was prepared and we were ready to go. While all this time is put in from by the director, you need to be willing to put in the small amount that he or she is asking of you.

Cover Image Credit: Sarah Simmons

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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From One Nerd To Another

My contemplation of the complexities between different forms of art.


Aside from reading Guy Harrison's guide to eliminating scientific ignorance called, "At Least Know This: Essential Science to Enhance Your Life" and, "The Breakthrough: Immunotherapy and the Race to Cure Cancer" by Charles Graeber, an informative and emotional historical account explaining the potential use of our own immune systems to cure cancer, I read articles and worked on my own writing in order to keep learning while enjoying my winter break back in December. I also took a trip to the Guggenheim Museum.

I wish I was artistic. Generally, I walk through museums in awe of what artists can do. The colors and dainty details simultaneously inspire me and remind me of what little talent I posses holding a paintbrush. Walking through the Guggenheim was no exception. Most of the pieces are done by Hilma af Klint, a 20th-century Swedish artist expressing her beliefs and curiosity about the universe through her abstract painting. I was mostly at the exhibit to appease my mom (a K - 8th-grade art teacher), but as we continued to look at each piece and read their descriptions, I slowly began to appreciate them and their underlying meanings.

I like writing that integrates symbols, double meanings, and metaphors into its message because I think that the best works of art are the ones that have to be sought after. If the writer simply tells you exactly what they were thinking and how their words should be interpreted, there's no room for imagination. An unpopular opinion in high school was that reading "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was fun. Well, I thought it was. At the beginning of the book, there's a scene where Hawthorne describes a wild rosebush that sits just outside of the community prison. As you read, you are free to decide whether it's an image of morality, the last taste of freedom and natural beauty for criminals walking toward their doom, or a symbol of the relationship between the Puritans with their prison-like expectations and Hester, the main character, who blossoms into herself throughout the novel. Whichever one you think it is doesn't matter, the point is that the rosebush can symbolize whatever you want it to. It's the same with paintings - they can be interpreted however you want them to be.

As we walked through the building, its spiral design leading us further and further upwards, we were able to catch glimpses of af Klint's life through the strokes of her brush. My favorite of her collections was one titled, "Evolution." As a science nerd myself, the idea that the story of our existence was being incorporated into art intrigued me. One piece represented the eras of geological time through her use of spirals and snails colored abstractly. She clued you into the story she was telling by using different colors and tones to represent different periods. It felt like reading "The Scarlet Letter" and my biology textbook at the same time. Maybe that sounds like the worst thing ever, but to me it was heaven. Art isn't just art and science isn't just science. Aspects of different studies coexist and join together to form something amazing that will speak to even the most untalented patron walking through the museum halls.

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