I’m not sure if I’ve been using this phrase too often – you know, that something’s changed my life. Deciding to be an author changed my life.Â Taking Literature changed my life. The friends I found there? Oh, yes, they most definitely changed my life. And all for the better, that goes without saying Theatre did, too.
Since I was what, six years old, I’ve been casually into acting. Residents’ Association Annual Day plays. Assemblies. Class plays. School Annual Day plays. It hardly mattered what it was, I was just there. In the background, more often than not, because I was hardly a figure of any prominence at school, but always… around. Acting just feels right to me. It probably has something to do with the same trait that makes me love fiction, the urge to lie creatively
It wasn’t until I joined college that I actually realised that Theatre is a much bigger deal than I had always thought, and that acting is not the only part of producing a play!
(I have some excuse for thinking that before first year. I had taken a break from extra-curriculars in the 10th, 11th and 12th – not that I was missed – so I had never really been a part of the behind-the-scenes action as a grown up student. So all I could take part in was learning my lines and setting up the stage. Scripts and direction came from the heavens, fully formed.)
My first play in College was an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. As a key member of the scripting team, there was little doubt that I would be an important part of the whole play, and I was. Stella’s a girl’s-only college, and I had the most amazing time playing Mr. Bennet. Mrs. Bennet was awesome, the other characters were decent, and we got more-than-polite applause and a rep for being a keen class.
We lost that soon enough.
Still, that had set my path. I had never before actually thought it was possible to do what we had done – to keep the teachers carefully out of the picture without antagonising them, and to put up a competent, near-professional show on a budget that would put shoestrings to shame. It was nothing short of revelation.
Since then, I’ve been part of – let’s see – five more plays. More than the acting or even the scripting (which I LOVE, it’s the greatest part of the whole process!) it’s the friends I’ve made. Trust me, when you have memories of being an overweight over-silent kid just a couple of years ago in school, tolerated for her marks and her willingness to listen, it thrills you to find that there are people out there who care about you and admire you because you are who you are. That they respect you because you’re sincerely good at what you’re doing, and that makes you fit in. It’s a dream that, sadly, I never achieved in school. That’s why I love college so, so much. Before this, I’ve only ever experienced unconditional love. Conditional love growing into unconditional is a whole different ball-game, and one I love the feel of.
So yes, to answer the question that brought on this introspection (how has theatre affected your life?), it’s just this. It’s not about what theatre has given me. It’s who.
Dedicated to the Stellar Players, Stella Maris College.