Once you are up on that stage, it's show time. Each performance must be taken seriously, always better than the last. An actor must maintain the idea of dissatisfaction in order to continuously improve, yet always remain open-minded.
A huge part of theater has to do with consciousness. Would a different point of entry or exit help the scene flow better? Which tone of voice will convey the message between the lines best? Will the audience be able to distinguish each relationship between characters?
A great director teaches you how to efficiently critique yourself and others. Throughout my theater classes, my classmates and I studied various rubrics, graded and critiqued each other's performances, had open class critique sessions while skits were being performed, and many other exercises.
As a writer, theater helps me to choose each word specifically. What purpose does each individual word hold? Would a different word convey the greater message better?
As a social being, theater helps me to improvise when I find myself in uncomfortable situations. The little amount of social anxiety I have now is far less than the amount of social anxiety I had prior to theater.
I learned to leave my baggage at the door and step outside of my own worn-out shoes. On stage, I had to let go of the stress that consumed me at times. I struggled with being fully present, as my mind habitually wandered to another topic to overthink. Having to perform throughout various treacherous times in my life got me by. I had the opportunity to step into another character's shoes, requiring my full attention and change of personality.
During class, we would take part in seemingly strange exercises. During one in particular, we were instructed to walk in a circle, continuously alternating between statures of different creatures. One moment we would all be crawling like toddlers, and the next minute we were roaring around like dinosaurs. From the outside looking in, we had lost our minds. Laughably, we all learned a lot from various quirky exercises. Learning to step outside of yourself is daring, yet extremely fun. When acting, you are able to portray any given character. In and outside of theater, you begin to care less about what others think. Life is about enjoying the moment, conveying messages, clarity, and much more than others' opinions about us.
One of the most challenging segments of the advanced theater class I was in was studying body language. We were instructed to simply sit and stare at specific people and record what we noticed about their posture, expressions, mood, etc. We learned so many things about ourselves and each other. Interestingly, we often present ourselves in ways that do not correlate to who we genuinely are. Taking note that I often appear closed off, yet I am extremely open and accepting, I am more conscious of how I carry myself. Given that I am an approachable person, I want to smile that smile of mine and wave hello, not cross my arms or exhibit other closed off behaviors.
I played many background roles throughout plays and musicals. Never once did I feel unneeded. Our director emphasized that each character is equally important. A scene must be complete, requiring each actor to perform fully, regardless of how many lines or how much stage time his or her character has.
When a play was chosen that had a role that fit me well, I auditioned for a lead role. I was ecstatic when I heard I got the part, as I had worked so hard researching the life and history of the human being portrayed in the play. I was most of all humbled to have worked so hard, and to have seen a result.
My theater professor, who also directed the high school's plays and musicals, is one of the main reasons why I am still here. He heard my voice through my selections of pieces throughout class. He acknowledged my passions by typecasting me into roles that I could portray well. Most of all, he let me be me.
To anyone who has ever performed in a play or musical, been in a theater class, or simply enjoys the arts: you know best that we become one big family around each other.
I am forever thankful for the challenges that I faced in order to better myself and my understanding of others. Theater is much more than simply performing. Theater is the beginning of growth.