The hands that went with the authoritative whisper gave me a gentle push, and I scurried into the light. Squinting at the indiscernible faces in the audience, I tried to ignore my trembling knees and focused on remembering the lines I would soon have to recite. It was my big debut; I was five years old, and I was playing a tooth.
Even at five, I wanted to do things properly. I longed to hear someone murmur, "Look at her! She could hold her own against professionals!" The other children, I knew, would giggle and fidget their way through the tiny monologues assigned to us, but I wouldn't let myself. As each of my co-stars stepped forward to say their piece, I maintained my perfect posture, my back and arms aching as I formed part of a very big, very hungry crocodile. The very best actresses I'd seen, like Mary-Kate and Ashley, had huge eyes, so I made sure to keep mine as wide as possible, and I held my chin high so that I had to peer down my nose to see each child stutter through a couple of rhyming lines.
Finally, it was my turn. Clad in black leggings, grimy white sneakers, and an oversized grey sweatshirt, I strode to the edge of the stage and planted my feet. I took a deep breath, pushed my bowl-cut out of my (still very wide) eyes, and bellowed out my couplet in my very best stage voice. And then I was done. I looked around expectantly, waiting for someone to throw roses at my feet, or launch into a deafening standing ovation, but nothing happened. It was time for me to go back to the crocodile, and let someone else have a shot at West End-worthy theatrical success. I didn't slouch, or hang my head in dismay - I kept my chin up and my back straight, and vowed to do even better next time.
My innocuous debut on the stage of Norwich's Maddermarket Theatre may not have been groundbreaking, but it instilled in me an adoration of the stage. I was shy and bookish (some may have called me a know-it-all), but when I was playing someone else, I could be bold, funny, and likable, or wicked, brooding, and spiteful. I began to take away the best parts of my characters, and on numerous scuffed stages, I came into my own.
I hope to be able to continue growing and expanding my repertoire, both as an actress, and as a person. By working towards a degree in Theatre Arts at Cornell, I'll discover how to help other five-year-olds discover their inner Liza. Among other fantastic learning opportunities, I will be able to create my own characters, discover the art of costume-making, perform in multicultural plays, and absorb a wealth of information in the Resident Professional Teaching Associates workshops. Perhaps by the end of my time in Schwartz I'll have my superstar moment...
Thanks in advance! I'll return the favor! :)