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From Classroom to Stage: My Theatre Journey

“Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich; But theatre will make you good.” -Terrence Mann

    My first kiss, performing with the Radio City Rockettes, playing the banjo for thousands of people, and pretending to be shot and killed – these are all things I have experienced solely thanks to theatre. To become great at something, everyone must start somewhere. That is why I thank the first theatre class I took in the third grade for my current love for theatre. Although it seemed like an insignificant decision at the time, I now realize that deciding to join a theatre class was the first step I took to pursue what is now both my passion and my future career.

    As a child, my parents would take me to see shows performed by a local theatre company called Theatre West Virginia. To me, these shows were the coolest experience I could possibly have because they were performed at an outdoor amphitheater in the summer. Every year, I looked forward to sitting under the setting sun in a national park and letting the performers transport me to another world. When I was in the third grade, the company performed a show at my school, and the actors stayed afterwards to tell us about a program called the Theatre West Virginia Professional Training Academy. As someone who was an extremely theatrical child, I had been told I should try theatre my entire life. Naturally, my interest was piqued. After getting one of the forms from my teacher, I discussed it with my best friend at recess. She told me she was going to sign up and at that moment, I decided I wanted to. I enjoyed my once-a-week dance class, but otherwise didn’t have any hobbies. I figured that this class, at the very least, would give me something to do. 

    When telling my parents about this new and exciting adventure, they were extremely supportive and encouraged my joining of the class. I came home from school and anxiously gave my mom the flyer. I was extremely excited to share this new hobby with my parents, as they always supported me trying new things and stepping out of my comfort zone. My mom filled out the paper given to me at school, and I was ready to attend my first class the following week. My parents knew that this decision is one that would benefit me in ways I did not even know yet.

    My best friend Caroline was someone with whom I was excited to share this choice. Though the class was a bit intimidating for both of us at first, we knew that going together would make it much less scary. I talked to her about the class endlessly during the week leading up to it; I communicated this with her so that when we both got to the first class, we would be on the same page and ready to go. Theatre is something we continued to enjoy together for many years long after that, and I am grateful she wanted to join the class. Without her decision to join, I most likely would have been too afraid to go alone.

    The people with whom I was most excited to share this decision were my teachers. I turned to my teachers for advice because they were the adults whom I trusted the most, aside from my parents. I asked my regular teacher, as well as my P.E. and music teachers for advice for easing my nerves. Before the classes started, I told my music teacher about these nerves, asking for any help he may want to offer. He told me, “You can’t get good at something until you start it.” These words of encouragement slightly eased my nerves and helped me understand that if I wanted to try theatre, I would simply need to start this first class. They were proud I chose to do something a little bit outside of the ordinary. All my teachers were so kind and involved, and they always asked me how the classes were going or when we would have a performance they could come see. I was elated to see them being so supportive of my hobbies and interests, as well as supplying me with helpful advice. I communicated this choice differently with my teachers than I did with my parents, as my teachers saw me in a classroom setting every day and could give me well-suited advice to a classroom setting. My music teacher had previous theatre experience, so I knew he would be able to provide relevant advice. 

    This choice to enroll in a theatre class is one that, at the time, seemed to just be so I could start and enjoy a new hobby. However, as I got older, the more and more I became involved with professional theatre and the more experience I gained. By 2018 I had ultimately decided theatre would be what I wanted to pursue. I still was unsure about majoring in theatre in college. Three years later, theatre is one of my majors and I am elated I decided to stick with it. Through my theatre experiences, friendships and senses of community are built, public speaking skills are improved, and people usually become more outgoing overall. Because of this, I encourage everyone to try a theatre class at some point. The skills I learned in my first theatre class are ones that not only helped me theatrically, but also in my social life, as well as my school career. I believe everyone should take advantage of these benefits; theatre classes also greatly help people in gaining an appreciation for art and artists. 

    By communicating to my teachers that I was making this choice, I learned a very valuable lesson: everything that seems intimidating now could be the first step toward something huge. Without the encouragement from my parents, friends, and teachers, I would gone into this first class with a nervous mindset and with no confidence. Because various people supported me, I felt far more prepared and far less overwhelmed by this new class. Nobody starts out being great at something. If you want to pursue a new interest, you must start somewhere – even if it is at the very bottom. From there, the only thing you can do is get better. I encourage others to step outside of their comfort zones to try something new, as you never know when your next hobby could end up being something you love and pursue forever.

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