One of the greatest things about the interwebs is all of the fabulous lists of stuff! Let’s be honest, we’ve all been on Facebook and clicked the 26 Jokes Only Theatre Nerds Will Understand. We’ve all spent an evening listening to 59 Broadway Songs That Will Devastate You. Then of course there are the helpful lists, 5 Tips for Singing with an Accompanist (seriously, read this one). There are lists that make you feel good about what we do - 14 Ways Being A Drama Kid Can Help You As An Adult.
Those are all good and fun for their own reasons, but the best lists are created by the people around you. Literally around you. At the start of our second Aladdin, Jr. rehearsal Shawna had all of us sit in a circle, introduce ourselves and talk about theatre. Most talked about how long they’ve been involved, many mentioned their first show, some talked about why they are involved with theatre. After a few students shared their reasons for doing theatre I started taking notes (see my actual, hand written notes below - apologies for my terrible handwriting). It’s such a joy to listen to these kids talk about theatre. They GET IT! I think what stuck with me the most, almost all the comments were about others. Making new friends, being a family, people with similar interests, being a team, showing the world that kids can do BIG things. The comments that weren’t focused on others, were all around feeling good about themselves. Feeling accepted, feeling like a part of a group.
I shared with them the short version of why I do theatre (if you ever want the full story, let’s meet at Coffee Slingers. We’ll talk). It was being a part of Ragtime, directed by Shawna, that I saw the power of music theatre. That show brought a group of very diverse people together in way that I’ve never experienced. It led to conversations that I never would’ve had if it weren’t for that show. I talked to my children about racism, classism, sexism, I witnessed the audience become fully invested in our story, and I saw members of our cast embrace their roles not because they were good actors, but because they had lived many of the stories in that show. It opened my eyes, and my mind, in a way that never would have happened without that show.
I want others to have those kinds of experiences and we can do that. Together. We can teach these kids that they can do so much more than people think. We can witness kids becoming friends, and yes, even family. We have a more diverse group of kids than what you might see on the surface. We do look a lot alike, but we all come from different backgrounds. We all have interesting struggles and stories, and we get to bring all that to the theatre. Using our differences, we get to make a Whole New World.