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Student Blog: The Play Called Life

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The quote by Seneca, “Life's like a play: it's not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters” resonates with us all as storytellers of our own lifes.

Student Blog: The Play Called Life During my four years of studying performing arts, people assumed I wanted to be an actor. To their surprise, I told them that that was not my main focus. I told them that I was putting my energies into working behind the scenes. Although acting is my strength compared to singing and dancing, there is a part of me that sees myself somewhere other than under the spotlight. Ultimately, I wish to become a production manager or a producer or better yet, a director. I want to be the next Cameron Mackintosh or Julie Taymor, or both if I could. So once I found out I was going to be producing a play, I couldn't contain that sudden rush of excitement. I worked as soon as my professor told me I could start doing my research on what play I wanted to work on. After much thought and looking up different options, I ended up with Trifles by Susan Glaspel.

Student Blog: The Play Called Life I kept the exact same photocopy of the script from my senior year in high school. For some reason, I felt like it would come in handy later on and it sure did. We studied the piece for English class as we were learning about drama. The story left a lasting impression; the message seared into my mind. I thought it was a beautifully written tale depicting the struggles of women which still resonates with the time we are living in. Even though much has changed since then, as you read the lines you can't help but see how certain aspects still exist until this day. Our society has its so-called "cancel culture" and most importantly women empowerment, however there are those who continue to turn a blind eye to the new reality that we are all facing. Some still believe or say that women are the weaker sex as it is seen in media and in work. I chose this play particularly because of the chilling ending that shows us crime does not pay, and this includes abuse in every shape or form.

Student Blog: The Play Called Life As much as I wanted to focus all my energies on the play, I had other commitments and one of them being Romeo and Juliet. This was the first official Shakespearean play I ever acted in. I worked alongside professional actors under the direction of Ana Valdes Lim, a Juilliard graduate. Although I was playing minor roles, I still had to attend rehearsals every week. Not that I complained about that, I had the best time learning with others and developing my talent. On the other hand, I also felt a bit of pressure knowing that I was a part of a real show with a paying audience and a director from Julliard. It is not that it is all new to me, I just knew that much was expected of me. In between that and classes, I had to find a way to fit table reading and choreography into my schedule and those participating in my self-produced project. The actors mostly comprised lowerclassmen who were also taking theater arts. On top of that, I suggested to my dance professor that our final project could be included in my play. I volunteered to be the choreographer and include the dance numbers into the introduction and ending of the play. I had to coordinate with them and sometimes have rehearsals beyond school hours. Luckily, they were mostly helpful and cooperative. They were patient and I am so grateful that they understood how hard it was for me.

My professor also ameliorated the situation by attending rehearsals for short periods of time for he too had a busy schedule. I had to let him know what I had in mind for him to also help out with the acting or blocking. It was nerve racking but I tried to fight back the stress from eating me up inside. I had a really tough time when one of the actors decided that she couldn't play the role that was assigned to her because she has other responsibilities to take care of. I was heartbroken because my professor and I already went through the period of finalizing who would be part of the cast. I didn't expect a problem like that; it was something I didn't ask for at all. What disappointed me the most was that this person already agreed to taking on the role. I was already juggling between my play and the Shakespearean one. So, the most sensible solution to the problem was for me to take the role, a leading role at that. So on top of choreography, music, costumes, script editing, and directing, I had to act.

Student Blog: The Play Called Life Fast forward to production week: the play was far from perfect. We didn't have enough time to rehearse because scheduling with everyone was a major challenge and therefore it hindered us from finishing it the way I wanted it to be. After one of the last performances of Romeo and Juliet, I had to stay up that night and rehearse my lines with my co-actor. We stayed up until about 3 into the morning of our show day. Once I got up, I had a number of things listed in my head that I knew I had to work on. I needed to make sure the props were set, costumes were in order, and that everyone knew what to do. My mind was running all over the place but I still managed to keep a clear vision of what else had to be taken care of. I would run out of the dressing room and then up into the tech booth just to make sure the stage manager had everything covered. Thankfully, my professor oversaw the lights and music as well. There was a bit of a hiccup when it came to time. We were waiting for the dancers to finish their midterm examinations; we couldn't start without them since they were opening the show. I was afraid that people would get upset. Luckily, we started after 20-30 minutes. I wouldn't have accepted that honestly, but what mattered to me the most is that we would be able to start the show with a complete cast and crew. If it wasn't for them, the show wouldn't have been possible.

Then at last we took our bows and we received our congratulations from everyone. I was so proud of what we were able to achieve in less than a month's time of rehearsals. Although I would have wanted more time, I am still happy to have produced a good play. What was important to me is that we all pulled through and managed to tell the story. I was so glad that me and my co-actor picked up from each other's energy even if we were nervous; we didn't have enough time to master our scenes and so some improvisation came into play which helped a lot. Overall, the play was a success; I was beaming with pride after the show. My professor congratulated me for doing a job well done in spite of the time constraint. He was so impressed with what I was able to achieve with the help of the cast and crew. My fellow actors, dancers, and crew were all so grateful and happy with what we did. Their smiles were enough to make me know we did something worthwhile and memorable.

This is exactly why I love theater: it is a creative space with a wide range of possibilities. The only form of boundary is our minds, so all we have to do is believe and grow with the flow. Yes, time did limit us from mastering the play but it didn't stop us from bringing the best of our abilities. I can't wait to bring my talents into the bigger stages and from there a broader reach of audience. If there is one thing I learned from this experience, it would be the vitalness of believing in yourself. To have that perseverance to push through with the vision you have in mind and to let others support you along the journey is such a privilege. That is why I will continue to explore and find ways to provide aid to other artists to achieve their dreams too. I am beyond grateful for the gift of theater and what it means to all of us, from the actor to the stage manager, to a member of the audience.

The saying "Life's like a play: it's not the length, but the excellence of the acting that matters" by the Roman dramatist and philosopher Seneca means something else to me now. I have come to realize that we are all playing a role in this show called life and that every second counts. It is in every moment that we make big and small decisions that will affect our life's stories. It is with these stories that we will show future generations how we lived and how we dreamed. I am thankful to be alive today and to have the opportunity to pursue something that I love to do. Happiness is in my grasp now that I have fully discovered what it is that I was called to do. As I do things one day at a time, I will reflect and look back at my mistakes and changes as signs of development, just like in any tale. I will work to have my story told through my work and love for theater. For as long theater and art exists, I will thrive and live out my dream with gratitude in my heart and a soul full of life and love.

Student Blog: The Play Called Life


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