Dear Theater, Thank You For Making Me Human

Dear Theater, Thank You For Making Me Human

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

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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 11 Most Meaningful 'Dear Evan Hansen' Quotes

Eleven of my favorite quotes from the new musical "Dear Evan Hansen" that changed my perspective after seeing the musical live.
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The new musical Dear Evan Hansen, showing on Broadway's Music Box Theater is a suprisingly uplifting story about a boy who kills himself, and the star of the show (Evan Hansen played by Ben Platt) getting caught up in a messy lie, pretending to be best friends with the boy who took his life.

The story, however, is much more than one of sadness or suicide. It is one of love, the unconditional kind and the kind that you find yourself falling into. It is a story of friendship and forgiveness and owning up to your mistakes. But most importantly it is a story of accepting yourself and becoming confident in your own skin.

I was given the opportunity to see Dear Evan Hansen live on Broadway, and after hearing the songs live, the lyrics gave me a whole new meaning than when I would listen to them in my room through my headphones.

1. "I've learned to slam on the break, before I even turn the key."

Coming from the first song that was released off of the soundtrack "Waving Through a Window," this line helps charactarize Evan as anxious and nervous during interactions with others. Hitting the brake while starting a car is not necessary for it to start, but he creates this metaphor by saying he takes extra and unnecessary cautions before entering any seemingly simple and easy situation. As Evan is characterized, the audience or the listeners are able to connect better to him and to the story because more people than we may know must go through anxious thoughts and actions, that can be very difficult to live with.

2. "No one should stick it out or have any doubt that it matters that they are here."

"Dissappear," a song sung by Evan and his two friends as a proposal to Connor's (boy who committed suicide and was presumably best friends with Evan) parents about a project they are beginning to keep Connor's legacy alive, is a straightforward remark that "no one deserves to dissappear." This quote recognizes the struggles that many people face of hiding their struggles and not doing anything to fix them because they think it would be easier to hide it. It recognizes that people should not have to do this, and it is a request for people who are going through the things that Connor did to reach out and tell people that they are struggling, because it really does get better and asking for help is the first step.

3. "It takes a little patience, takes a little time. A little perseverance and a little uphill climb."

I believe this quote can relate to many things. It is a duet sung by Connor's father and Evan, titled "To Break in A Glove." Though it is literally talking about the correct way to break in a baseball glove, it can also be talking about parenting, school, or recovery from depression, anxiety, or any other mental disorders that can be consuming. Connor's dad was not anything of a prime parent to Connor, and this quote can mean that parenting a kid to your full potential takes patience and time. School, another big struggle in Evan's life as well as Connor's, takes patience but as does the most consuming and memorable aspect that the musical is addressing: overcoming depression and anxiety so that it does not consume you and lead to the decision that Connor ended up making. Though it may seem like a neverending cycle of depressing thoughts, to overcome them it takes patience and perseverance, much like any other accomplishment.

4. "Even when the dark comes crashing through, and when you need a friend to carry you, when you're broken on the ground you will be found."

From what is most definitely my favorite song from the soundtrack, "You Will Be Found" addresses the fact that so many people feel alone and feel as though Connor did. This line shows that even though you may feel alone and you may be at your darkest, deepest point, there will always be help and support and someone to care for you. You are not alone.

5. "I'd rather pretend I'm something better than these broken parts, pretend I'm something other than this mess that I am."

The line from "Words Fail" shows Evan at his most vulnerable. It shows the side of him that he wishes no one to witness because it is his worst side. I find this song to be the most emotional, and most importantly because the lyrics can be related to so well. With depression and anxiety, people can act out and do things as they see fit to make themselves feel better, which is partly what Evan did, pretending to be Connor's friend. This quote shows the reasons behind those actions, helping people in the same position feel relieved for the things that they think are going wrong only for them.

6. "When you're falling in a forest and there's nobody around do you evern really crash or even make a sound?"

This line is another from "Waving Through a Window" and ties to Evan's anxiety as well. It shows the slow deterioration of one's mind, and how no one even notices when someone is going through things like that, hence the metaphor to the tree falling in a forest and no one hearing it because no one is there. It is making a notion to the fact, also, that people are so afraid to discuss the issues of suicide and depression and anxiety, and that it is a problem especially among youth.

7. "Why should I play the grieving girl and lie saying that I miss you and that my world has gone dark without your light?"

This line from "Requiem," sung by Connor's sister and parents, is a different perspective of what happened to Connor, a more cynical perspective. While it may seem insensitive, I enjoy that Zoe (Connor's sister) stands her ground with her relationship with her brother and remains indifferent, instead of lying about loving him just because she isn't able to anymore.

8. "If I could tell her how she's everything to me, but we're a million worlds apart and I don't know how I would even start."

Although this is about how Evan feels about Zoe - not Connor - it shows how crippling it can be to wish you could be able to tell someone something, especially about your mental disablities, but you feel like you can't because you aren't close enough or don't know where to begin.

9. "So you got what you always wanted, so you got your dream come true, good for you."

This song is a turning point in the musical where Evan's actions begin to creep back up on him. It shows that even though you get what you wish for, it isni't always perfect all together. This line shows also that what you first think you want isn't always going to lead to the perfect life or the perfect girl or the perfect family, and you must not face your struggles with lies as Evan did.

10. "Your mom isn't going anywhere your mom is staying right here no matter what, I'll be here."

This comes from the song "So Big/So Small," when Evan apoligizes to his mother about abandoning her essentially for Connor's parents and she confesses to the hardships she has faced as a single mother who doesn't make much money. This is one of my favorite quotes, because it displays unconditional love from your family, and shows that no matter what it is you go through and no matter how much loathe you may feel for yourself, your family loves you and supports you.

11. "Dear Evan Hansen, today is going to be a great day and here's why: because today at least you're you and, well, that's enough."

These opening words to the finale close up the message of the show: that you are enough, no matter what anyone tells you and no matter what you begin to tell yourself. Making mistakes is human, as is having depression or anxiety, and just because you make mistakes or you have depressed thoughts does not mean that you are any less of a person than someone who doesn't feel the same as you. This musical and this line taught me that no matter what, you are wanted, you are needed, and you are worth it no matter what you do or what you go through.

Cover Image Credit: Dear Evan Hansen Official Website

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'Clueless' Is Getting Its Own Musical And I'm, Like, *Totally* Buggin'

First "Mean Girls: The Musical," now this?!?

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Last week we were blessed with the news that "Clueless," our favorite '90s movie, is getting its own off-Broadway musical. Honestly, between the masterpiece of "Mean Girls: The Musical," "Heathers: The Musical" and now "Clueless: The Musical" we are getting all of the female-led, cult classic films in musical form and I'm not mad at all.

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Our shopaholic, sweet, and spoiled valley-girl will be played by none other than Disney Channel star, Dove Cameron. Before some of you critics ask, "well, can she actually sing?" Dove's resume is pretty impressive for a more recent Disney Channel star. Dove has starred in "Liv and Maddie," the first, second and third "Descendants," "Hairspray Live," "Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," and even the Hollywood Bowl production of "Mamma Mia."

"Clueless: The Musical" is set to begin previews November 20th and open on December 11th and run until January 12th. And hopefully, depending on how well it succeeds off-Broadway, it'll make it to the big leagues, Broadway.

Alongside Dove Cameron, Tai will be played by Ephie Aardema, Sara Andreas as Heather, Gilbert L. Bailey II as Murray, Dave Thomas Brown as Josh, Zurin Villanueva as Dionne, Tessa Grady as Amber, and Will Connolly as Travis just to name a few. If you don't know who any of these people are, they come from all corners of the Broadway world. For example, some of them have been in "Legally Blonde the Musical," "Rock of Ages," "Cinderella," "Spongebob Squarepants: The Musical," "Kinky Boots," "The Book of Mormon," "Mean Girls: The Musical" and so much more.

If you need me anytime soon I'll be waiting patiently by my laptop for the release of anymore "Clueless: The Musical" news for the next month or so.

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