Growing up, I was always performing. Throughout my childhood years, my cousins and I would put on short, silly plays for my family following Thanksgiving dinner. We would write, rehearse, and perform our shows, convinced that we were true professionals. I distinctly remember deciding to perform the story of the first Thanksgiving one year. We spent all of the time we allotted for practice arguing over who was going to play the lead: the turkey.
As we grew older, we stopped performing. Thanksgiving became about family and food, instead of a chance to show off our acting chops. My love for performance was put on a backburner as I began focusing on school and softball.
Just when I thought I had forgotten all about acting, my high school guidance counselor asked me the simplest of questions: "Do you want to take classes in chorus, art, or drama?" The freedom she gave me to choose that day put the reigns back in my hands. A class all about performance? I was in.
That winter, I auditioned for my first community theatre production. It was Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". I landed a part singing in the ensemble, which would have been better had I not already developed a strong distaste for Christmas music. Still, I persevered because I finally found a place to call my second home.
It's now been 6 years since my first community theatre performance and I can't imagine what my life would have been like had I not auditioned for that first show. Being involved in theatre has truly changed my life for the better.
I have watched myself grow, evolving from a shy, awkward preteen into a confident actress. The experience has made me come out of my shell. And now, being a part of community theatre continues to change me as a person. Having the opportunity to play different characters, all from different backgrounds teaches me sympathy and understanding. Working behind the scenes building sets and stage managing teaches me charity and hard work.
Most importantly, theatre teaches me the meaning of true friendship. The friends I have made these past few years are the best anyone could ask for. Their ages may range from 10 to 70, but they all have unique perspectives to offer. These are the people who make me laugh uncontrollably with their dad jokes and terrible puns. They are also the people who offer me a shoulder to cry on in times of need.
Community theatre is nothing without the community inside it. My theatre family took me under its wing and made me feel like my life was worth living. I cannot imagine being without the artists who work endlessly putting their blood, sweat, and tears into not only our beautiful theatre, but also into every person who sets foot inside its doors.
To the Abbeville Opera House family in Abbeville, South Carolina: this one is for you. Thank you for transforming my life and planting a seed of appreciation and love for theatre in my soul.