Saturday, August 6, 2016

10 Things Being in Theatre Has Taught Me

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By: Meghan K.

For the past year and a half, I have been spending many evenings running lines in a tiny studio with a bunch of people, most of whom I’ve known about a month. Translation: I’m a drama kid. And I love it. Even though our studio is quickly becoming too small for our rapidly growing casts, and sometimes the heating and air doesn’t work, it is a second home to me.
Being a drama kid has been one of the most exciting, adventurous, crazy things I’ve done. It’s brought me out of my shell and helped me come into my own, boosting my confidence. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some amazing, confident people, both castmates and directors. I’ve worn high heels, dyed my hair, pranced around a church basement in a tutu, and jumped headfirst into a man-eating plant, all for the sake of theatre. The super cool people, crazy shenanigans, and theatre building itself have taught me some important lessons about life and loving myself. Here’s my 10 things drama has taught me.
                                                                                              
1. What people mean by “second family.” From the moment I walked into my first rehearsal, I felt like my castmates had my back. I’ve noticed that in every show I’ve been in; the players have very quickly become some of my closest friends, and they’ve seen me at both my best and my worst, and still they stick by me and support me through everything. I feel like these crazy people are my adoptive brothers and sisters and I always miss them at the end of a show.

2. Sometimes, you have to think fast. There’s always going to be that inevitable moment; someone messes up a line, a hat falls off, et cetera. I’ve learned that part of the art of theatre is being able to recover from these moments and make them look like they were part of the script. It’s the same in real life; sometimes you have to pull something out of your hat very quickly and improvise. The more time I’ve spent acting, the better at improvising I’ve become.

3. Nobody’s perfect. Clich├ęd and trite as it is, it’s true; nobody’s perfect. I have a horrible case of perfectionism, but in theatre, I learned very quickly that being a perfectionist throws me off and causes me to make mistakes, and then I get stressed because of those mistakes. Eventually, that becomes a vicious cycle, so sooner or later; I have had to accept that “good enough” is good enough.

4. Trying to impress people takes too much effort. There was one girl in one of my casts whom I had seen in a lot of shows but never worked with, and I spent many a rehearsals trying not to mess up because I wanted her to think I was a good actress. This just stressed me out a ton and in the end; I gave up trying to impress her because it was hurting me more than it was helping.

5. Don’t try too hard. This ties back to points three and four, because as soon as I stopped trying to impress the girl in point 4, I actually did a lot better, and my acting and dancing very quickly improved. But more than that, I had a lot more fun just being myself.

6. Ask and you shall receive. From asking people if I can hug them to saying, “Hey, why isn’t this bit a solo anymore?”, I’ve learned that if I don’t ask questions, I don’t get answers, and that I can’t always expect others to ask questions for me.

7. Give your all in everything you do. I’ve had to do some pretty strange things for theatre; for instance, having one of my friends giving me a crazy stare while being two inches from my face, or remember that time I mentioned when I had to wear high heels? But even if I’m doing something I would normally never do, I try to put my heart and soul into the role, because the people who are really good at what they do are the ones who take what they’ve got and give it their all.

8. How to speak in public. In theatre, enunciation, projection, and posture are just as important as emotion. Everything, I’ve learned in theatre about delivering monologues, I’ve also used when I have to deliver a speech. Not to mention that theatre has taught me how to memorize things quickly and accurately!

9. It’s completely okay to ask for help. There are many people who don’t like to ask for help, and I’m one of them. But sometimes I do actually need to lean on others, whether what’s bugging me is something as tiny as needing help with one of the dance steps or as big as needing someone to drive me to rehearsal tomorrow or even listen to me ramble about life crises. Asking for help isn’t a crime, and while I still don’t like to do it, drama has definitely made this a little bit easier for me.

10. There are some situations where you forget everything that’s bugging you. I could be having the worst day offstage, my life could be spontaneously combusting behind the scenes, but as soon as I get onstage, I’m in the zone. I don’t just play a role; I become the character I’m playing. Theatre has taught me to seek out those moments where nothing matters but the present.

11. BONUS THING! Be confident in your talents, failings, and quirks. One of the most important things I learned in theatre was how to be confident in all those weird little things that make me who I am. I learned to be proud of everything: my inability to sing quietly; the drive to be good at things that my perfectionism creates; my somewhat awkward dancing; my love of giving people hugs. All these things are what make me “Meghan.” I’m proud of them.


To all my fellow drama kids, thank you for being great castmates and friends, and keep on acting! To you who are unsure if you should try out for a play, go for it! You only live once! And as we say in theatre, break a leg!

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