The Odyssey

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The Odyssey

The Odyssey

How Theater Has Shaped Who I Am

I breathed a sigh of relief as the curtain closed and the lights faded from the stage. It was the closing night of our high school’s production of Peter and the Starcatcher. We waited backstage until the applause trickled to a stop in the audience before starting our curtain call. I beamed with pride as the crowd cheered when I went to take my bow. The crew took their final bow and we went out to greet our parents and friends who came to watch us. Another show had successfully come to an end. I ran to the locker room to remove my itchy costume and wipe the excessive stage makeup from my face. We cried and hugged backstage as we said goodbye to something that we had dedicated countless hours to over the last few months. The seniors gave their speeches and all of the exhausted kids headed home to shower and fall into what would most likely be a long sleep.  

Theater is something that I have loved for as long as I can remember. As a kid my mother would take me to see all of the shows put on at the high school and on occasion, we would even go to see professional shows. I remember being mesmerized by the beautiful costumes and synchronized dance numbers after going to see The Little Mermaid. I remember laughing at the fart jokes in Shrek the Musical when she took me to see it at the age of six. I remember going to watch the high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors twice so that I wouldn’t miss a single detail. After watching our high school’s production of Seussical, my mother leaned down and whispered in my ear, “You know, I used to act up on that stage when I did theater in high school too.” At that moment I knew, I wanted to be a part of that too. 

In seventh grade, I landed my first role in a show at a community theater in a thirty-minute children’s play, A Year with Frog and Toad, as a bird.  It definitely wasn’t the most glamorous experience. I had a grand total of 2 lines and I had to wear a huge recycled blue bird costume but I still remember the sense of accomplishment I felt when it was all over. I had spent hours practicing my audition song and had waited anxiously to see the cast list. And although it was a small accomplishment, I was ecstatic when I saw that I had been cast. Over the next few months, I spent entirely too much time looking over my very few, unimportant lines. Backstage opening night I couldn’t stop shaking and I had to push back the feeling of nausea that would hit me in waves. As the curtains opened I took a deep breath and felt the nerves leave my body. I knew after that night that this was somewhere where I belonged.

In the time since my stage debut, I’ve acted in four full-length shows at Potosi High School including Elf the Musical, Alice in Wonderland, HONK!, and Peter and the Starcatcher. Each show was meaningful in its own way. In Elf I felt like I was able to learn so much from our incredibly talented seniors. Alice in Wonderland was my first real speaking role as the March Hare. HONK! introduced me to a whole new set of people. And Peter and the Starcatcher challenged me when I was cast as a boy. Every show has proven to be new and exciting in its own way.

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 Theater has become a major part of my identity as a high school student. Every show has its own set of people and a completely unique environment. Through all of the late night practices and Saturdays spent at the school perfecting the show, you create a kind of family with the people you are working with. I would have never met some of my closest friends had it not been for theater. Every show I’ve performed has given me the chance to fall in love with theater all over again through all the hours I spend working on it. I get to lose myself in every character I’ve portrayed and in a way they become a part of my identity as well.  

Performing is not the only aspect of theater that has shaped who I am. I still love to watch shows every chance that I get. Seeing so many people of different backgrounds with different talents come together to make something is inspiring. Every show ranging from professional shows to low-budget high school productions is completely unique. So much goes into the making of a show and it is incredible to see the product of that. I truly believe that you can take something away from every show that you watch. 

The experiences I have gained through theater throughout my entire life have shaped who I am as a person in many ways and it has been a major part of my identity, especially in the last few years. From being just a kid watching in awe, to now being on the stage myself, theater has always been an important aspect of my life. 

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