What I Learned From Theater

12 Mar

When I walked into my first audition 2 years ago, I didn’t know what would follow. I only knew that I wanted (almost needed) to be with the people I had just met downstairs. I walked in that huge wooden door shaking violently, walked up on the stage, handed the accompanist my music, and proceeded to sing the most awful rendition of Edelweiss I have ever heard. By the grace of God they let me sing in the chorus, and how much I’ve learned since then…

I learned how to get over your fear, and do what you know you want to do in spite of it.

I learned how to stay in character all the time, how to look like a different person, how to think like a different person.

I learned that you can do the things you love just because you love them, and you don’t need another reason.

I learned about lighting, and sound cues, and how the audience is distracted when too many people onstage are wearing the same color.

I learned that if you’re nice to the freshman girl she will never forget it.

I learned that people don’t always notice you, and they probably won’t if you’re just laughing quietly at their jokes.

I learned that early is on time, and on time is late.

I learned how to do a jazz square, how to sing a proper harmony, how to pronounce ‘often’ the correct American way without the ‘t”.

I learned how to leave all my emotions at the front door; how to  forget them for three hours, or six. I learned how to forget them completely.

I learned that they would wait there for three hours or six, but they would not go away.

I learned how to get things done, how to balance life and sleep, how to convince my mom some other thing was responsible for my dropping GPA.

I learned that people don’t always want you, and that it doesn’t mean you’re bad or less desirable, it only means you don’t fit the role they need someone to play.

And not just in theater.

I learned how to tie a tie, smoke a cigar, hold a microphone, and apply a safety-pin with one hand.

I learned how to look happy, and be okay, even when I knew that I didn’t belong.

I learned how to be fast and quiet at the same time in plastic heels.

I learned to take the utmost pride in what I was doing, how to make it meaningful and important, thoroughly completed and as flawless as possible.

I learned that quality lies in attention to details.

I learned how much it means when somebody you have the utmost respect for really likes you, and how much it means when they say that they’re glad you’re there.

I learned to push myself to be the very best I could be, all the time, always.

I learned that when your very best isn’t enough, you’re in the wrong place. And although the thought of it makes me sick, like standing on the scaffolding shaking with fear, I know that it is the wrong place for me.

I know in a little while, when this strange sadness wears off, I’ll be happy again. Because theater has taught me that while happiness may have something to do with pride, it has nothing to do with success.

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