~ Describe an experience you have had, a person who has influenced you, or an obstacle you have overcome. Explain why this is meaningful to you. ~
I've never been interested in acting. I've had plenty of friends who perform in musicals and plays in camps and schools and I always go see them. And I've always enjoyed watching these plays and musicals. But I never thought of myself as a 'theatre kid'. I don't like being onstage. I'm happiest just off-center of attention. That being said, though, the Theatre Kids I've been friends with have been some of my closest friends, and watching and working on shows was a way to spend more time with them.
At the beginning of sophomore year, a friend of mine decided to start a theatre company at our high school. The school hadn't had any real performing arts programs since before we were born, and though supportive in theory, the staff was unable to provide any concrete help. So it was up to a couple 15-year-olds with a few spare hours a week to get a one-act play off the ground. We advertised and held auditions, which summoned from the depths of the student body anyone who had graced the stage in an elementary school production. We auditioned third-grade Olivers, fourth-grade Annies, and fifth-grade Cat In The Hats. Overall, turnout was higher than expected. We ended up with a small cast for small show: a one-act play called Dog Sees God, about the high-school-age incarnations of the Peanuts gang. I was to be the stage manager: taking notes, managing logistics, planning sets and budgets and generally staying out of the limelight. The director's right-hand man, pulling strings backstage-- an essential, though generally unnoticed, job. Perfect for me.
Despite our lack of experience, our drive and the drive of our cast was enough. Two-hour rehearsals once a week, a set designed and built by the only two members of crew, and four months later, we had ourselves a show: one performance during school, two after-school open-to-the-public performances. It ended up being so well-received our principal asked to put on the play once more, as a school assembly.
In the span of a year, a few 10th grade girls were able to found an oasis of arts in a school notoriously academic. Our company has expanded since that year, from a handful of highschoolers putting on a one-act play to an organized program that's currently putting together its second full-length musical.
Objectively, none of our shows have been five-star, extremely high-quality productions. But they've been good: shockingly good, in fact, all things considered. More importantly, though, they've changed lives.
One of our leads in last year's musical was a sixth-grader with medical issues. She was absent from school often because of this, and would have been isolated socially save for the musical-- she only missed two rehearsals, and thrived onstage and off. Another sixth grader, Emily, was trusted to run the soundboard for our last show-- she'd joined crew because she'd been too nervous to audition for cast. But after a year singing and dancing along with the cast onstage from the booth, she was ready to try out, and this year she's playing the female lead in the musical.
It's changed my life, too. I can now juggle the responsibilities of booking a show with the drama that comes with a middle school cast. I can sweet-talk my way into locked rooms and plan schedules for nine-hour rehearsals. But more than that, I've become more capable and resourceful. Maturity is second nature now. I've learned to be a self-starter, and that creativity is necessary and fun. I've helped create a community, a home for people who before had none. And I've learned that for those willing to put in the effort, effecting change truly isn't that hard.