Last semester I took a Creative Writing class.  We had to write a Creative Non-fiction piece since I was pretty happy with the way it came out, and I don’t have anything else to blog about, here is the first half.

Theatre kids make scenes

Secrets from the inside

For me the pull of the stage was undeniable.  The sheer magnetism of being in front of an audience was something I could not resist.  Perhaps I also loved the sense of belonging, of being able to identify myself with a group of people.  I was a “theatre kid” ; we were crazy, and noisy, and full of personality.  After spending a good portion of middle school and all of my high-school years in a musical theatre group I think I know a few things about theatre kids.  Here are the ten most important things I learned:

1. Theatre kids bring out the introvert in me: I used to consider myself an extroverted person, but then I realized I just hung out with a bunch of introverts.  Theatre kids take “extrovert” to a whole new level.  They’re the people who bring the party with them when they come, and you hear them the second they walk in the door.  I learned quickly that I no longer had to be the loud kid, or the kid who was always talking because there were other people to fill that position for me.  Now I could be the quite kid, the kid that had to be coaxed out of her shell instead of the one doing the coaxing; which was a whole new thing for me.  Depending on my mood, spending time with these people was either very energizing or very draining.  There were times when I would bound out of play practice singing, and dancing and laughing; counting the hours until the next rehearsal.  Then there were the times were I would stumble out of the building and to my car, wanting to be alone long enough to hear myself think.

2. Theatre kids are an emotional group: Theatre kids often have the sunniest dispositions, and the blackest moods.  They can swing from giddy with joy to full of angst and anger faster than you can say honorificabilitudinitatibus.  They feel deeply and without reserve, rarely understanding why no one shares their enthusiasm over being able to hit Christine’s last note in Phantom of the Opera, or their dejection over Cats no longer being on Broadway.  When they love, they love with abandon and when someone hurts them it’s not easy to win them back.  They have too much energy and passion to get it all out on the stage and so it comes out in real life.

3.  Theatre Kids forget life isn’t actually a musical: Theatre kids tend to go through life dancing and singing.    With all the musicals that have been made there is an appropriate song for just about anything, and they’re not afraid to use them.  There are times when I look up and wonder “Where is that song coming from?” and then I realize it’s coming from me.  Music is the way to say things we’re afraid to just speak, it works in the musicals; why not in real life.  It’s a rather disheartening experience to be walking down the street singing “Put on a happy face” and instead of joining you, the people passing just stare at you and move a little quicker.  The biggest reality check for any theatre kid is the startling (and unfortunately regular) reminder that not everyone’s brain thinks in song.  So theatre kids spend a lot of time with each other, in situations where it’s not only appropriate but expected to burst out in song at any given moment.  For someone unaccustomed to this sort of thing, a word of warning: any sentence may trigger a musical outburst.  The theatre kid in question will get a glimmer in their eyes and a smile, followed by a sharp intake of breath.   You occasionally  have enough time to jump in with some other sentence and distract them, but some theatre kids (myself included) are too quick for that and you just have to sit through a rousing rendition of whatever song happens to come to mind.  Thomas Jefferson once said “Music is the favorite passion of my soul” and many theatre kids would agree with this wholeheartedly.

4.  Theatre Kids really do have that much personality: When I first started watching Glee I wondered when they had come to New Mexico and observed my theatre group.  You pick a character and I have probably met someone very much like them.  I think non-theatre people watch Glee and think “what caricatures these are,” but the truth is in every musical there’s the cast of characters on the stage and the cast of  characters in real life. Many theatre kids have enough personality for two or three normal people.   Two of them talk enough for five or six, ten of them talk enough for twenty and beyond that, you can forget being able to pick out any sort of orderly conversation.

5.  Theatre kids are extremely optimistic: Most theatre kids are sure that they’re headed straight to the top;  despite the many, more realistic directors and theatre teachers who have told them time and time again that very few people are actually able to make a respectable living in the theatre world.  Theatre kids still seem sure that they’re slated to star in the next great movie in Hollywood, or headline on Broadway as soon as they can get there.  You would think that they would miss out on a part a couple of times and start to give up, but theatre kids have a perseverance unlike any other.  They keep on trying despite rejection after rejection.   They are sure that they will make it (or die trying) and there are very few things that will dissuade them.  Theatre kids are some of the most unfailingly persistent people I know, and more often than not they are willing to do anything to achieve their goals.  Occasionally this leads to bitter hardened adults, but my list of things I learned from theatre grown-ups is the subject of a whole other paper.

Hopefully, this didn’t bore you and cause you to a) Fall asleep, or b) just stop reading.  If you care , it may please you to know, that I’ll post the rest in the next couple of days.

 

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