STUDENT CENTER - HIGH SCHOOL EDITION
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BWW Blog: Loving What Constantly Lets You Down

"No".

Just two simple letters that can shatter the heart of any performer, yet be one of the most common phrases they hear. Though often not explicitly said with just two letters and instead hidden behind the reasoning, the word echoes around in a performer's brain, especially if it was in response to something they desperately wanted. Performers know this is the norm when they agreed to perform, yet why do we still do it?

I've been performing since the age of three as a dancer, but as it was only for recreation for seven years, I rarely got to experience the word. It was not until I joined my middle school's theatre program in sixth grade did I begin to understand how often it was said. For my first year apart of the program, I was mainly participating to be with my friends, so the life of being an orphan in "Oliver!" for ten minutes at the top of the show was more than okay with me. Through that show, my love for theatre was kindled beyond the basics I knew from my childhood prior, and I was desperate to get more involved.

When I first committed myself to theatre the following year, my first impactful "no" came swinging in. That year, my school was putting up two productions: the musical "Into the Woods" and the straight play "The Lottery". Ideally, I wanted to be cast in both, but knowing that was unlikely, I focused my attention on my audition for "Into the Woods". I was not destined to be in that show, however, as when the cast list went up a few days after auditions, I discovered I was casted in "The Lottery" while all my friends were cast in "Into the Woods" and to make the situation bittersweet, majority of my friends were cast as leads too. My experience in "The Lottery" was extremely rewarding, as I had fun and worked hard, which helped our production win top score at the state competition. Was it worth it though? The "no" I received from "Into the Woods" had cut like a knife, and had led to countless nights full of tears over not being good enough and being left out of a piece of art my friends got to create together. While the following year I received even greater success with my first role, the experience of not being cast in a show all my friends were cast in repeated itself, leaving me to wonder if this was to become a regular thing.

Then high school rolled around the corner. It was an opportunity to start fresh and dedicate myself one hundred and ten percent to something I had become so attached to. With a new director who had only been teaching at our school for one year, I was confident that high school would be my time to shine. By the end of freshman year, I felt as though my initial hopes were being received well, as I was cast in every show I auditioned for and was asked to be in the straight play I did not audition for. It was as if the word every actor dreads hearing had been left behind me when I entered the high school doors.

My sophomore year would prove that thought to be wrong, as the word trickled itself in. Throughout the year, it felt as though the word "yes" had ceased to exist. I was not put into the musical theatre dance class I wanted to take, but instead into the same acting class, which I had taken the year prior. For our annual revue, my solo was the only one cut (though in hindsight, for good reasons), the competition one-act was a five person cast with auditions on a date where I was already busy, my ITS solo competition piece never actually competed, and though I tried my hardest in rehearsals for our production of "Fiddler on the Roof" I had very little stage time. It felt as though every ride home from rehearsal with my father was spent in tears of frustration. Frustration at myself, my director, the universe, and even theatre as a whole. It came to a point where I nearly quit the productions I was fortunate enough to be cast in. My blame was often misplaced, but that does not dismiss the hours I spent sobbing over something I cared so deeply about.

So why did I continue? Or should I say, who do I continue? It's only because I remember why I do theatre in the first place. I do theatre because it's the one place where I can escape from reality for a little bit, whether I'm the one onstage or in the audience. I do theatre because I love the feeling of looking out into a void of an audience, wondering if my facial expressions are catching anyone's eyes, and if anyone caught the fact that I messed up the last dance step slightly. I do theatre because I love to dream: of what roles I may play, what songs I may sing, the dance steps I will struggle to learn, and what shows I may direct if I continue with my current dream of becoming a high school director. I do theatre because it often combines my two favorite subjects, history and English. I do theatre for the reward of taking the bow opening night, knowing all the endless nights of hard work meant something to someone, whether in the cast or in the audience. I do theatre because it makes me feel closer to my mom, who was an avid fan of musical theatre and would have loved to see me on stage if she were still here.

I do theatre because at the end of the day, no matter what I go through, I love it. I love it more than words can describe, and more than anything else in this world. Even with the constant "no"s that will follow me throughout my theatrical career, I know that when the "yes" comes around, it'll have made all of this worth it, and I hope others remember that as well.

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From This Author Emily Holzman

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