BWW Blog: Lily Erb - Life Is A Stage
Everybody has their 'thing' in high school. Maybe you were the star of the football team, or you dedicated your time to the robotics team. Maybe you were on the school newspaper staff or you attended all the science fairs. For a lot of kids, they throw themselves into the abyss of theatre.
In theatre, there's a spot for everybody. Cast is very inclusive, with places for even the most timid of actors and actresses, but action goes on behind the scenes too. You can join lighting or sound and handle the mechanics behind the stage magic. You can join crew and hammer, screw, paint, et cetera et cetera. Musicians can join pit orchestra and contribute to the soundtrack of the show. It's easy to see how kids can get caught up in drama for their entire high school career.
Four years of drama. At my school, we do three shows a year (fall, spring, and summer), so that's twelve shows in total. For four years of your life, you devote yourself to the stage. For a lot of the kids, they start even earlier than High School. They've been doing drama since 6th grade, sometimes earlier. Drama becomes your identity. Your resume is covered in extracurriculars such as "Member of Thespian Troupe 2693" or "Bay Shore High School Drama Club." Your timestep is absolutely perfect. Almost all your friends are in drama, and the ones who aren't are always in the audience. Drama has successfully become a major part of your life, and you can't possibly complain.
And then you graduate.
Graduation is a double sided coin, from my sophomore perspective. Nobody really loves all of high school. Graduation comes as a liberation to most. It's a prison break. You've spent twelve years of your life studying arbitrary things like pre-calc and tectonic plates, and now you'll most likely never have to use the pythagorean theorem ever again. Hooray! But then again, graduation is the end of a chapter. I know that when one door closes, another opens, but it seems so final. Unless I succeed in inventing a functioning time machine, you can never go back to those high school years. And yea, you don't have to worry about hydrocarbons and subject-verb agreement, but now you've got new things to worry about. Like money! And college! And life in general! Graduation seems like the equivalent of somebody sneaking up behind you and smashing cymbals right next to your ears as a sort of brash wake-up call. "Yes, hello? Hi! This is the Real World speaking. Time to figure out your life!"
So you're free. You're out. You're gone. You're graduated.
What do you do next? It's not like you can avoid graduation. Everybody has to graduate eventually. You have to say goodbye to a major part of your life, high school, and the drama club that it provided.
I spoke to three graduating seniors at my school about their past experiences in drama and how they felt about leaving. Kwaku Owusu, Nalia Colas, and Matt Caples have all been involved in drama since their middle school years. As a sophomore, speaking to them was eye opening. I've come to realize that within my next two years of high school, I have to cherish every moment I get. Soon those two years will be behind me, and it'll be my turn to take my last bow.
One thing I noticed as I spoke to the seniors was how much drama helped them come into their own. Most shared stories of how drama forced them to come out of hiding and make friends. Knowing that they've been involved in the program for so long, it was heartwarming. I started drama my freshman year, so I never really understood the family mentality of the cast, crew, and pit. After this, everything was put into perspective for me."I was a quiet freshman and before drama I didn't do anything. I was in a shell and without drama I would've never become as charismatic as I am now," said Matt. "It helped me meet some of my best friends and I learned to be open for meeting new people," said Nalia. "It has helped a lot with public speaking and being creative. Other than being a fun part of my life, I've met so many friends. It's been a big experience in my life," said Kwaku.
Although the seniors aren't going to continue drama in college, all three have incorporated the aspects heavily into their lives. Matt who was previously a member of crew, will be going into film production. "With the help of drama, I learned about stagecraft and blocking and everything there is to a show," he said. Nalia, who spent most of her shows as an assistant director, says that her role in the drama club has prepared her for life. "I'll know how to handle responsibility and difficult people... and even copy machines," she explained. Kwaku explains that being a part of drama has given him a certain appreciation for any kind of show. He says that even though he will not be continuing drama in college, he will continue to return and watch the shows. "I get so much pleasure from watching a production," he says. "Drama gave me an enhanced perception and heightened appreciation for a show. Now I understand how much work really goes into a production."
Most interestingly, when I asked them if they would miss drama, they weren't regretful to be leaving. "After thirteen shows, I think it's time to let go, hang up my hat, and move on to the next chapter," said Matt. "I'll miss it without a doubt. Each production was a blessing, but now I have to leave it behind," said Kwaku. "Leaving is pretty bittersweet. I'm going to miss being part of a club that allows you to work with your friends and have a good time doing it, but I'm also excited to move on and see what my life will become," said Nalia. To me, this is important. I don't want graduation to be completely sad, and this outlook is positive. I want to be this optimistic when I graduate. I want to leave with a smile and fond memories. I want a happy ending.
I like to thank Kwaku, Nalia, and Matt for speaking with me about their experiences. I would also like to wish the graduating class of 2016 the best in all their future endeavors. As they open this next chapter of their life, I hope they find everything they're looking for.