Journey to 30: Day 3
The Theatre was and will be again my Sanctuary
When I was around eleven I found a faded and slightly faded picture of my mom standing in a costume at the edge of a stage as a young girl. She looked so confident and I found myself proud as she explained that she played the lead roll. I interrogated her further about her short stint in high school theatre and excitedly planned my own future in speech and drama.
When I reached seventh grade my self esteem was quite dwindled and I didn’t expect much in a way of casting, but truly I was only happy to be a part of the company. I auditioned for my first play and on my form I listed every character but the lead; I decided that was for the students with real talent. When the results were posted I followed every dotted line but could not find my name. I shrugged it off and thought I could at least be a techie, I preferred set design anyway, but then I heard someone say, “How did Jessica get the lead?” It hadn’t even occurred to me to check that. I went on the next six years playing several leading roles in shows like The Boys Next Door and Taming of the Shrew, I would go onto win several medals and first place trophies for my collaborative talent with my best friend Alexa. I would go from the girl who hid in the corner with no personal faith and turned into a leader and an individual that had limitless possibilities.
In ninth grade I sought refuge in the theatre. Bullies be damned, in the theatre I was in my world and I was untouchable. I coined it not the theatre but my sanctuary. I spent lunches alone hiding in the balcony or backstage, I spent each day after school for hours rehearsing and bonding with my cast mates. There was no greater inner peace I had ever felt.
In times of trouble, and when I feel talentless I recall the time Mr. Moore casted me as Starveling in the One Act version of Midsummer Nights Dream. Not only was it the terrible Shakespeare which poetically drones on and on, but it was only one line. Never had I been casted such a small roll. Upon our dress rehearsal I finally was given the opportunity to deliver my line. I chose not to follow the lulling poetic flow that is so easy for a young student of Shakespeare to fall into but instead I added sas and with my hand upon my hip I read off my line like a diva who was just as distraught as I did feel in such the circumstance. Mr. Moore’s boistrous laugh echoed along the walls of the dark abyss I stared into. It made me realize that even with a simple sentence I could impact the larger picture, there truly were not small parts only small players.
My final director was Mr. Timms and my senior year he lined us all up on the edge of the stage to offer his farewell speech to us. He told us about how in our entire life high school theatre would be the smallest detail in the big scheme of life. That we would move on, enroll in college, get jobs, have families and our theatre experience would just be a memory. Theatre was such an important part of my life, my esteem, and had been my sanctuary; there was no possible way that what he was saying would be remotely true. I clenched my fists as I held in all efforts to burst into a tantrum, “lies,” I wanted to cry.
Yet here I sit, a mom of three with a degree in junior high english education in-between careers, but high school theatre memories, although distant, still fill me with confidence, joy, and security. I still introduce myself to fellow thespians, “Hi I’m Jess, I was President of Theatre Troupe #5968 in 2003-2004.” I do hope when the girls are in school that I can find refuge again through community theatre.