• My High School Theater Woes

    Theater; the lights, the stage, the thrill of the audience! Everyone’s nerves are on edge, people scrambling into their places. The sudden urge to vomit and keep on vomiting is the first thing that comes to mind, at least, in my mind anyway. All of this can be attributed to first time jitters, but I received this feeling before and after every performance. I was, after all, new to Theater. Too bad I felt like this all through High School Theater.

    It was freshmen year for me at James Pace High School. I had found myself switching to Theater Arts from Choir. This was partly from fear of my teacher and his temper rather than any real interest. I later found myself enamored with the Theater and all its thrills and wonders. In fact, I discovered I had a real talent for acting. My voice, in particular, could be heard from the voice booth in the very back. I was loud, clear, and I could act. My teacher decided to cast me as a secondary character, a little old lady in the play, “Boys Next Door.”

    However, due to my limited knowledge of Theater, I wasn’t doing much, save for a few speaking lines in one scene and maybe three more in another. That was all I did. The rest of the time I spent backstage, doing whatever I could to help the main actors. This basically meant help keeping the props in their proper places, helping the other actors change from one costume to another, and keeping our main protagonist from getting squished by a door. As a minor character in a High School play, I did my part to help my fellow actors. I mostly helped out with rehearsing lines and telling them when he or she was on next. I’ll admit, it’s not what I had expected, but after all it was only freshman year, I had hoped to get more parts and experience.

    Sophomore year was a little better. We, my classmates and I, did these small skits. When we acted about different problems teenagers went through, from abuse, to the loss of a family member. I shined brightly towards the end year in one specific skit, in which I played the part of a grieving mother who never wanted to leave her house again, while my late daughter’s friend tried to help her in any way she can. I moved the whole audience, my co-actor and everyone backstage to tears! Sadly, my triumphs would not last. My teacher had a tendency to pick favorites, and I normally wasn’t one of them; these favorites, although fantastic actors and actresses (half the time) always got the main parts no matter what, leaving the other members of Theater to do the background characters, myself included, sometimes.

    Sophomore year I participated in the play “Cinderella.” There I played Fairy Godmother, as I was the only one who really wanted it. The problem I had with that specific play was the dialogue and our audience. The play was meant to be performed for children in kindergarten to at least second grade. We performed this for High School students. This was very embarrassing. The worst of it however was stalling for time while at least three people tried to move a cardboard cutout of the Pumpkin carriage. Cinderella took at least another five minutes to put her dress on; all the while I was there on stage randomly spewing out whatever came to mind. Did I forget to mention that the ending was different every single time? Some people got into their minds it would be funny to call me the Tooth Fairy, which I was forever immortalized as ever since, much to my chagrin.

    By my junior year things had lightened up for me, however not by much. I was once again typecast as the little old lady, this time in the play “Why do we laugh?” I played the part of grumpy and senile old Meredith. A part I loathed because I could never find the character’s right personality. I had to be either a senile grumpy old woman, then a sweet lovable old woman, to just being whatever I thought would fit. It was so frustrating because for me, this was a big part and we were also performing for the One-Act play. We didn’t make it past regional and while I didn’t mind as much, my cast members did. A lot of people blamed me for a part of it when I didn’t even want to be in that play. One thing I hated about Theater was that a lot of the time I was in a play because it was mandatory, not because I wanted to be in it.

    Also that same year, my classes performed a little play called “Nifty Fifties.” In which I introduced the play as a beatnik, as a back-up dancer during one of the musical numbers, and as a poodle skirt girl who brought the play to a close. I was on stage for a total of twenty-five out of a fifty-minute play. It was silly and cheesy, but it gave us all a reprieve from the pressures of exams and the disappointment of our one-act play. Like any play based off the 1950’s, it wasn’t just cheesy but also childish, had bad dialogue and music that made the Disney musicals look like Metallica. Most of my teachers non-favorites did not like being treated like bones she could dig up whenever she needed us, me especially. By the end of junior year I decided to try something else, Art. I left after only three weeks back into Theater. As much as I loathed the typecasts, the bad plays she and her Favorites kept on choosing and not once have anyone listen or take me seriously I still could not help but love Theater.

    By my senior year things were more or less the same. I was once again in the One-Act play. However it wasn’t just me but my entire Senior Class Theater. My final play was called “The History of Tom Jones,” which in fact I myself and everyone else loved! Naturally my teacher type casted her favorites for several roles, but her absolute favorite, a lazy drama queen whose name I shall not mention, more or less stopped showing up to the practices for whatever reasons. Everyone was already tired of her tardiness and bad attitude, so we all made the unanimous vote to boot her out. Eventually auditions were held for the main female role and I almost got the part… but lost it to a sophomore who had more of an “innocent look” to her then me. She was my teacher’s new favorite. I got type casted once again as the little old lady. You can only imagine how fun that was for me…

    To sum it all up, every one of our performances would range from being fantastically hilarious, as this was a farcical, to being phenomenally awful. Though we did better in One-Act this time around, we still made only third. We performed for the school and later we performed for our parents, friends, teachers and anyone else who wanted to see us. That was the one final performance, and each and every single one of us was, in my honest opinion, awesome. Everyone laughed at our jokes, we had energy and excitement, and I had finally found my character. That was about it for me and Theater, for awhile. To more or less sum up my feelings after Theater: I was bitter. I hated it. Besides being type casted, I was never given a part I wanted even though I practiced hard and auditioned and while I knew this happens often in Theater, it wouldn’t make feel as bad if the people who got the parts weren’t my teacher’s favorites. Life’s like that, so you got to make the best of what you got.

    I’m hoping this year will be different, and maybe not. I just know I’ve got to be better at acting, so its practice, practice, practice. For as the great actress Mary Pickford once said, “If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you…for this thing called ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”