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Dear Theater, Thank You For Making Me Human

That's right, there's a place for my weird to exist freely.


I'm kind of a weirdo.

I sing in places other than just the shower, and if I don't know the lyrics, I often make them up or repeat the parts I know over and over until the person I am with gives me murder eyes.

I can recite Hamlet's soliloquy from Act III Scene I, and I know lines from Macbeth. I use both of these talents as ways to confuse people at bars that I do not wish to have further interaction with. No, seriously I do. And it works like a friggin' charm most of the time.

I do awful and unfair impressions of Forrest Gump, Janis from "Friends", Patrick Star, Jack Sparrow, Aaron Neville, Elvis Presley, Brittany Spears, Katherine Hepburn, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Christopher Walken and Russel Brand. No, I'm not joking. Well, when I pull them out they are intended to be humorous, but I am serious that I have them up my sleeve.

But you know what's cool about my version of weird? I know you're going to say nothing, and you're too funny.

But in all seriousness, I can use these things to annoy people or make them laugh (sometimes anyway). But the best thing of all is that there is an outlet for it. That outlet is theater.

That's right, there's a place for my weird to exist freely. I know, I know. When I discovered that, I was shocked too.

I mean, when I tell people I've done a lot of theater in my life, they all make the same head titled back "aha" expression - which I've personally never understood. Like, what are they saying? Not everyone has Hamlet's soliloquy still memorized from that Shakespeare class they took early on in college?

It's true though. Since I was in the womb, theater has been a haven for me. Not kidding, my mom was stage managing a play when I was just a growing fetus.

To name a few roles, I've been a wicked step-mother, a male sheriff, a saucy maid, a worn-out stage actress and a vampire vixen. It sounds super cliché, and to some, it might even be extra, but these are lives I was able to imagine myself in. And from each of them, I take a little lesson.

Beyond a haven, theater has also served as an educational tool for me. I have learned some seriously valuable skills, from comfortability with public speaking and posture to thinking on my feet and voice control.

It is because of the life skills theater has given me that I have gotten jobs and internships, that I have formed friendships and relationships. I use what I've learned in some way, every second of every day.

It sounds dramatic, but it's true.

And if you've read the news following some of the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you probably know that those leading the gun control movement in the United States right now are theater kids.

Mary Laura Philpott's puts it well in her Washington Post editorial: "Breathe, speak up, calm your nerves and stick to the words you mean to say. That's what you do onstage, and, if you're lucky, it's what you do when someone puts a microphone in front of your face".

Apparently, the drama teacher who taught these young adults and a fellow survivor of the shooting, Melody Herzfeld, a woman who hid 65 kids from the shooter, is to receive a theater education prize from the Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon University.

It's a big deal – as it should be. I owe a lot of who I am to theater.

One of my favorite teachers in elementary school would have us start and end the day with acting exercises. We imagined ourselves as melted ice cream cones, and we played that game where you and a partner mirror each other's movements. For a few minutes each day we creatively became something other than ourselves.

But hey, don't take my word for it.

Americans for the Arts says that the performing arts promote creativity, confidence, problem-solving, perseverance, focus, nonverbal communication, receiving constructive feedback, collaboration, dedication and accountability.

And laughter, lots of laughter. Which according to the Mayo Clinic, promotes a healthy immune system and relieves pain and stress.

And who dislikes the sound of a humanity with all those qualities? That's right, no one.

Perhaps not everyone enjoys getting up on stage, and that's totally okay. But I do believe that any kind of involvement in live and local theater even as a spectator can help change the world for the better.

So get out there and get your drama nerd on.

Cover Image Credit:

Hannah Sundell

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The Types of Musical Theatre

It's about more than just "Hamilton."

With the spike in interest after the opening of "Hamilton," I thought I would take the time to explain the beautiful world that is —

But what is musical theatre? Well, the Google definition is "a genre of drama in which singing and dancing play an essential part" but there is so much more to it than that. Musicals have so many different types, and so many aspects other than just what is seen onstage. Let's look at the different types of musicals: Book musical, Revue Musical, and Rock/Pop Musicals.

1. Book Musicals

A "book musical" is one with traditional musical with a story that drives the music and characters. This category includes: "CATS," "RENT," "Annie," "The Book of Mormon," and "Oklahoma"!

2. Revue Musicals

"Revue"s are a collection of songs, with a common element. This category has no definite shows dedicated to them, but they are still a part of the musical theatre genre. This can include a musical revue of composers of musicals, or a well-known actress (see: GIF of Barbra Streisand).

3. Concept Musical

A "concept" musical is where the metaphor or theme is equally or more important than the musical itself. It may comment on a social injustices. There may be dissociated plot line, or unacquainted characters. Category includes: "The Last Five Years," "Allegro," "Follies," and "Love Life."

4. Jukebox Musical

A collection of songs from a group or artist is called a "jukebox musical". These musicals may not have a storyline, but are created to showcase a performance. Category is: Mamma Mia! (The music of ABBA), Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash), Rock of Ages (Glam rock of the 80s), and Come Fly Away (Frank Sinatra)

5. Rock/Pop Musical

The use of rock or pop music (or Rock/Pop Opera) to further the story, usually with little to no dialogue. This category includes such amazing works as "Grease," "The Little Shop of Horrors," "Godspell," "The Phantom of the Opera," and "Next to Normal."

As you can see the world that is musical theatre is much larger than the beauty of "Hamilton," I hope this gave you a little bit of insight to the magical world that is musical theatre!

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We Need To Give Theatre At Festivals A Chance

Watching theater being performed outdoors and in smaller places is the old way of watching shows.


With May being about Mental Health awareness, It shows that we need to expose people to the arts more often. The Orlando Fringe Festival is the longest running festival in the Orlando area. It provides an accessible and affordable outlet to bring the community together to create experiences through the arts. This festival takes place around the Loch Haven Park for about 2 weeks leading up to Memorial Day. It has around 500 uncensored performances each year and has something for all ages. Imagine something like this in every city. I feel like it would bring up the morale of each of the populations and get that vitamin D that everyone needs.

The artists that put in for the Orlando Fringe go through an application process and the cool part is for those outside Orlando that there is housing guaranteed for up to 4 people. That's something you don't hear everyday especially if the event lasts about two weeks. A festival like this is good for the soul and also good for the wallet. It gets people out into the community and provides exposure to the arts in an age-appropriate way. It provides an opportunity for people to go outside and enjoy the weather as we transition into summer. It's a perfect way for artists to showcase their craft and to expand their creativity. Its a prime example of why we should never stop learning.

If you are heading to Orlando Fringe from May 13th to 26th. I would check out multiple shows. Through talking to some of the artists, I found that the "How to Eat A Bear" Show is one of the shows to see. Luke Balagia and Mack Stine are the directors of the show. The show is based off a weird joke on a dating profile for Luke. These two met in an improv class 4 years ago and have been creating material ever since. They refuse to call it working because of it not being "Baller." It is a perfect example of if you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. With all of the love and care put into this, why wouldn't you want to go see it? The alternative is two men in the theater crying...

How To Eat A Bear Flyer Orlando Fringe

Imagine if the world was exposed to more of the arts, how much less mental health issues. Why do you think there is art therapy for those with mental health therapy. I've noticed that when people attend any celebration of the arts that they are happier people and make the best conversationalists. Being able to provide an alternative perspective on life is a beautiful gift that not a lot of people can give. With festivals like The Orlando Fringe, it provides a cheaper way to view the arts while going out into the community. Would you rather be stuck inside doing nothing or go out into the community and learn something about the arts?

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